To facilitate resilience to a changing climate, it is necessary to go beyond quantitative studies and take an in-depth look at the functioning of health systems and the variety of drivers shaping its effectiveness. We clarify the factors determining the effectiveness of the Estonian health system in assessing and managing the health risks of climate change. Document analyses, expert interviews with key informants from health systems whose responsibilities are relevant to climate change, and analysis of a population-based survey conducted in 2015, indicate that the health effects of climate change have not been mainstreamed into policy. Therefore, many of the potential synergistic effects of combining information on health systems, environment, and vulnerable populations remain unexploited. The limited uptake of the issue of climate change-related health risks may be attributed to the lack of experience with managing extreme weather events; limited understanding of how to incorporate projections of longer-term health risks into policies and plans; unclear divisions of responsibility; and market liberal state approaches. Minority groups and urban dwellers are placing strong pressure on the health system to address climate change-related risks, likely due to their lower levels of perceived control over their physical wellbeing. The results have implications for national, community, and individual resilience in upper-middle income countries in Eastern Europe.
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