Climate and population health concerns raised at FIU in DC (includes video story)

With several guests who serve in the health industry in attendance, FIU in Washington D.C. hosted a workshop covering several climate and population health issues yesterday. Drought, hurricanes, wildfires and vector-borne diseases were a few concerns brought to the table.

Before the main event, members of the university’s Population Health Initiative gathered in a conference room and made the climate top priority.

“Climate health is really critical to population health, especially in the South Florida region,” said Rita Teutonico, FIU’s associate dean of research for the College of Arts and Sciences.

By tackling climate issues first, the initiative hopes to ease the process of solving population health. 

The main event began at 3 p.m. with virtual remarks from the University of Washington’s president, Ana Mari Cauce. 

“The power of our partnership truly is amazing,” Cauce announced to the crowd.

The program continued with Admiral Rachel L. Levine, the assistant secretary for health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, followed by the event’s keynote speaker, Victor J. Dzau, the president of the National Academy of Medicine.

“This indeed is a public health crisis and an equity crisis,” said Dzau. “This is why your launching of population health is so important.”

Dzau proceeded with a presentation about how climate change is not something of the future; it is a problem that has already affected many in communities across the globe.

The event then featured a panel discussion and remarks from other speakers such as Democratic U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and FIU President Kenneth Jessell before the completion of the program at around 5:30 p.m. and transition into the reception.  

In regards to the advancement of health research in South Florida, FIU’s President Kenneth Jessell confirmed in a pre-event interview that the collaboration between FIU and Baptist Hospital in Kendall has a complete framework for the affiliation agreement. The finer details, however, are still in the works.

“Baptist will be a statutory teaching hospital,” said Jessell. “[It is] going to have access to greater physicians, greater opportunities for collaboration with our own researchers and our physicians.”

“What we’re going to be doing in terms of expanding the opportunities for health care and improving the opportunities for health care in our community will be tremendous.”

Sophia Bolivar is a senior at FIU majoring in digital journalism and focusing her studies on criminal justice. Sharing a love for both writing and photography has led her to pursue a career in journalism.