Public health is an effort organized by society to protect, promote and restore people's health. It is a combination of sciences, skills and beliefs directed to the maintenance and improvement of health through collective or social actions. In consequence, good health status is one of the primary aspirations of human social development. As a result, health indicators are key components of human development indices – the Millennium Development Goals, for example – by which we measure progress toward sustainable development.
Certain diseases and ill health are associated with particular environmental, seasonal and climatic conditions. This was recognized by the ancient writers of Vedic literature, and by Hippocrates, but largely overlooked during the development of modern medicine. Now that the world's attention is focused on climate variability and climate-change adaptation, it is essential that public health communities and government central planners understand the role climate plays in driving disease burden and affecting economic growth.
Public health emerges as the final common pathway for all impacts of climate variability and climate change on individuals as well as societies The World Health Organization recently identified 14 climate sensitive communicable diseases, including malaria, cholera and dengue. WHO describes these diseases as being promising candidates for the development of climate informed early warning systems. It acknowledges also, that some noncommunicable coronary and respiratory diseases are climate sensitive. IRI is a PAHO/WHO Collaborating Centre on Early Warning Systems for Malaria and other Climate-Sensitive Diseases.