Climate Change

Strengthening adaptation must to protect human health in face of climate change

During the Second Global Conference on Health & Climate, participants warned that without adequate mitigation and adaptation, climate change poses risks to public health

By DTE Staff
Published: Wednesday 13 July 2016

The Paris Agreement adopted last year marks the beginning of a new age in climate change response. The global climate pact will have a major impact on public health policy as countries take measures on adaptation and mitigation.

Strengthening adaptation is a must in the face of climate change. This includes plans to protect the human health from air pollution, heat waves, floods, droughts and the degradation of water resources. At present, more than 7 million deaths occur worldwide every year due to air pollution.

During the recent Second Global Conference on Health & Climate held in Paris, participants warned that without adequate mitigation and adaptation measures, climate change poses huge risks to global public health.

They also recognised the need to strengthen the resilience of health systems and communities to climate change by scaling up financial investments in the health sector, enhancing health information system and other suitable steps.

The World Health Organization estimates that climate change is causing tens of thousands of deaths every year. These deaths arise mainly from epidemics such as cholera, dengue and extreme weather events such as heat waves and floods.

Experts predict that by 2030, climate change will cause an additional 250,000 deaths each year from malaria, diarrhoeal disease, heat stress and undernutrition alone. The heaviest burden will fall on children, women, older people and the poor.

Experts highlighted the benefits of switching to cleaner energy sources as a mitigation measure. This will help reduce levels of climate and air pollutants as well as provide power for health facilities in low-income countries, they said.

The participants also recommended moving on to more sustainable food production and healthier diets to improve the environment and reduce the burden of non-communicable diseases. One way to do this would be to promote diets rich in fruits and vegetables, including local in-season varieties.

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