Climate Change and Health

Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) has made some interesting statements on the impact of climate change on human health.

Almost everyone acknowledges climate change and that humans are the principal cause of this effect. Global warming has the potential to cause extreme weather events such as storms, floods, droughts, and heat waves. These have profound consequences on human health.

According to WHO the five major health consequences of climate change are:

  1. Agriculture is sensitive to climate variability which can compromise the food supply. This will cause malnutrition particularly in countries that rely on rain-fed subsistence farming.
  2. Extreme weather events can cause storms and flooding. In addition to injuries, floods are followed by outbreaks of diseases when water and sanitation services are compromised
  3. Lack of water necessary for hygiene and excess water from more frequent and torrential rainfall can increase diarrheal disease from contaminated food and water. Diarrheal disease is already a leading cause of mortality in children.
  4. Heatwaves are dangerous for the elderly with compromised cardiovascular and respiratory systems and higher temperatures increase ground ozone.
  5. Changing temperatures and patterns of rainfall could alter the geographical distribution of insect vectors of diseases such as dengue and malaria.

“The reality of climate change is no longer in doubt, but there’s still time to reduce the consequences for human health,” Chan said. WHO is hoping that political leaders can move with more urgency when they understand the profound health effects of climate change .

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