HEALTH & CLIMATE CHANGE
Erle Frayne D. Argonza
How does climate change dovetail into health, hygiene, and public policy concerns regarding healthcare?
The impact of climate change is surely very complex a matter, as it involves many intervening factors affecting epidemiology and ailments. Health perspectives must, first of all, be re-tooled to constitute emerging paradigms about the matter.
Below is an update report by the development group eldis.org. Country cases showing climate change impact on health are incorporated.
[Philippines, 08 July 2011]
ELDIS HEALTH REPORTER
5 July 2011
- Predicting and mapping malaria under climate change scenarios: the potential redistribution of malaria vectors in Africa
- A human health perspective on climate change
- Impacts of climate change on public health in India: future research directions
- The implications of climate change for health in Africa
Predicting and mapping malaria under climate change scenarios: the potential redistribution of malaria vectors in Africa
Authors: EZ Tonnang,Henri; YM Kangalawe,Richard; Z Yanda,Pius
Produced by: Malaria Journal, BioMed Central (2010)
This paper, published in the Malaria Journal, posits that malaria is rampant in Africa and causes untold mortality and morbidity. Since vector-borne diseases such as malaria are climate sensitive, the authors argue that this fact raises considerable concern over the implications of climate change on future disease risk, as malaria vectors (Anopheles mosquitoes) may shift from their traditional locations to invade new zones.
Exploiting the sets of information previously generated by entomologists, e.g. on geographical ranges of vectors and malaria distribution, the authors build models that will enable prediction and mapping the potential redistribution of Anopheles mosquitoes in Africa.
Key findings of this study are:
- Shifts in the Anopheles mosquitoes species boundaries southward and eastward of Africa may occur rather than jump into quite different climatic environments.
- In the absence of adequate control, these predictions are crucial in understanding the possible future geographical range of the vectors and the disease, which could facilitate planning for various adaptation options.
The authors conclude that the outputs from this study will be helpful at various levels of decision making, for example, in setting up of an early warning and sustainable strategies for climate change and climate change adaptation for malaria vectors control programmes in Africa.
Available online at: http://www.eldis.org/cf/rdr/?doc=58482
A human health perspective on climate change
Produced by: Environmental Health Perspectives (2010)
This report, published by the the Interagency Working Group on Climate Change and Health, highlights 11 key categories of diseases and other health consequences that are occurring or will occur due to climate change.
The purpose of this paper is to identify research needs for all aspects of the research-to-decision making pathway that will help us understand and mitigate the health effects of climate change, as well as ensure that we choose the healthiest and most efficient approaches to climate change adaptation. This way, the authors provide a starting point for coordination of research to better understand climate’s impact on human health. The authors articulate, in a concrete way, that human beings are vulnerable in many ways to the health effects of climate change. They lay out both what we know and what we need to know about these effects in a way that will allow the health research community to bring its collective knowledge to bear on solving these problems.
The paper highlights the state-of-the-science on the human health consequences of climate change on:
- Asthma, respiratory allergies, and airway diseases.
- Cardiovascular disease and stroke.
- Foodborne diseases and nutrition.
- Heat-related morbidity and mortality.
- Human developmental effects.
- Mental health and stress- related disorders.
- Neurological diseases and disorders.
- Waterborne diseases.
- Weather-related morbidity and mortality.
- Vectorborne and zoonotic diseases (like malaria, which can be transmitted from animals to humans).
The report also examines a number of cross-cutting issues for research in this area, including susceptible, vulnerable, and displaced populations; public health and health care infrastructure; capacities and skills needed; and communication and education efforts.
The authors conclude that the actions we take today will help to shape our environment in the decades to come. Some degree of climate change is unavoidable, and we must adapt to its associated health effects; however, aggressive mitigation actions can significantly blunt the worst of the expected exposures.
They recommend research to identify who will be most vulnerable, and what efforts will be most beneficial; and to focus on the following areas:
- Integrating climate science with health science.
- Integrating environmental, public health, and marine and wildlife surveillance.
- Applying climate and meteorological observations to real-time public health issues.
- Down-scaling long-term climate models to estimate human exposure risks and burden of disease.
Available online at: http://www.eldis.org/cf/rdr/?doc=58464
Impacts of climate change on public health in India: future research directions
Authors: F. Bush,Kathleen; Luber,George
Produced by: Environmental Health Perspectives (2011)
Building on the information presented at the 2009 Joint Indo–U.S. Workshop on Climate Change and Health in Goa, India, this paper reviews relevant literature and data, to address gaps in knowledge, and identify priorities and strategies for future research in India.
The authors argue that:
- Climate change and associated increases in climate variability willlikely further exacerbate global health disparities. As such, moreresearch is needed, particularly in developing countries, to accuratelypredict the anticipated impacts and inform effective interventions.
- The scope of the problem in India is enormous, based on the potential for climate change and variability to exacerbate endemic malaria, dengue, yellow fever, cholera, and chikungunya, as well as chronic diseases, particularly among the millions of people who already experience poor sanitation, pollution, malnutrition, and a shortage of drinking water.
- In light of this realisation, the authors highlight the importance of improving the surveillance, monitoring, and integration of meteorological, environmental, geospatial, and health data while working in parallel to implement adaptation strategies.
Key conclusions and recommendations:
- It is critical for India to invest in improvements in information infrastructure that are innovative and that promote interdisciplinary collaborations while embarking on adaptation strategies.
- This will require unprecedented levels of collaboration across diverse institutions in India and abroad.
- The ensuing data can be used in research on the likely impacts of climate change on health that reflect India’s diverse climates and populations.
- Finally, the authors recommend the enhancement of local human and technical capacities for risk communication and promoting adaptive behavior.
Available online at: http://www.eldis.org/cf/rdr/?doc=58462
The implications of climate change for health in Africa
Authors: Chimbari,M., J.
Produced by: Arid Lands Information Network (2010)
The interactions between health and climate change are clearly recognised; the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change includes a chapter on health issues in all its publications. But we still need to better understand all the possible impacts of climate change on health.
To date, much of the evidence of the health impacts of climate change has focused on malaria. But the impacts are much wider than this. Climate change projections for Africa indicate that temperatures will increase by 0.2–0.5°C per decade, and many African regions will experience more severe droughts. This will translate to a short growing season for food crops, thus leading to food shortages. These changes may affect human health directly, as the changing weather patterns encourage the production of disease vectors and parasites, such as those causing malaria. Indirect changes will result through impacts on water availability, air quality, food quality and quantity, ecosystems, agriculture and economies – all factors that affect people’s health.
This issue of Joto Afrika features articles from different countries, which highlight ongoing or completed research into climate change and health across Africa. These articles indicate:
- climate change may increase the prevalence of diseases transmitted between humans and animals
- children are most vulnerable to climate change; in times of food shortage, they must be well-fed to avoid malnutrition, as this can make them more vulnerable to other diseases
- communities living in areas prone to flooding are often displaced, forcing them to move to temporary accommodation with basic facilities. This makes them more vulnerable to waterborne diseases
- modelling is an important tool for early warning for climate-induced health disasters
- vulnerable people in communities, for example people living with HIV, can develop successful coping strategies.
Climate change is a significant and emerging threat to public health. There is need for capacity building and implementation of projects to strengthen the health system response to climate change and to ensure that health is appropriately considered in decisions made by other sectors such as energy and transport.
Available online at: http://www.eldis.org/cf/rdr/?doc=57204