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Nigel McMahon

Chief Environmental Health Officer
Department of Health

Policy, Public-Health, Adaptation

Tell us about your background and your current role…

I am the Chief Environmental Health Officer at the Department of Health. As part of the public health advisory team, my role includes consideration of the likely impacts of climate change on health and the need for future adaptation. At UK–level I represent the Department on Public Health England’s Climate Change and Extreme Events Programme Board. Locally, I am a member of the Adaptation sub–group of the Cross Departmental Working Group on Climate Change, the Climate NI Steering Group and I chair the Climate Change and Health Group.

With regard to climate change what are the current issues facing your sector/area of expertise?

There is a general lack of awareness of how climate change is likely to impact on people’s health. A particularly challenging area is that of mental health impacts arising from multiple flooding and other extreme weather events. There is also a lack of baseline data to allow the development of indicators to monitor changes over time.

With regard to climate change, what do you expect the future issues and solutions to be in your sector/area of expertise?

Whilst everyone is likely to be affected in some way by future changes to our climate, as the experience of recent extreme weather events has shown, poorer and more vulnerable people are likely to be affected to a much greater extent. An important focus then is to ensure that adaptation strategies address the potential for climate change impacts to exacerbate existing health inequalities.