Opinion: Climate Health and People with Disabilities (PWD)

Op-ed by Dr. Frank Samonte
Published in Disabled World, October 14, 2022

People with disabilities (PWD) ranging from physical to mental health issues are vulnerable to environmental perturbations. The emergence of climate change as an important environmental factor in health outcome- particularly in low-income communities where healthcare delivery system is often inadequate- has profound effect on these individuals. Recent events in 2022 (Hurricane Ian & Fiona, western & southern plains drought, extreme heat, etc..) revealed profound effects from climate change. Increase in air pollution and heat effect are some of the environmental stressors that will exacerbate the already inadequate health care infrastructure for this vulnerable population.

Current strategies aimed at people with disabilities are primarily geared towards addressing the delivery of medical care and related services, even though health inequities and environmental social justice remain underserved. Health promotion strategies at the local municipal health level are focused on educating mothers and care providers in addressing nutrition and physical health in children with disabilities, while very little education and discussion is geared towards climate health issues. For instance, multiple recent studies have implicated air pollution as a……READ FULL ARTICLE>


Francis Samonte, MD, PhD is an academic pediatric and adult neurologist/neuroscientist and a 2022 Climate & Health Equity Fellow focusing on the intersection of cognitive-behavioral sciences and health policy & program initiatives. As a senior research associate in health policy development (NIH), his research into climate-related perturbations and their effect on non-communicable diseases (NCD) and mental health using advanced mathematical algorithms, are key to understanding future health outcomes particularly in promoting equitable solutions.