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Warning of climate impact on health

Tuesday October 31st, 2017

Climate change is already having a serious effect on health, according to an analysis published today.

Some mosquito-borne diseases have become more infectious – while millions of people have been exposed to additional heatwaves this century, according to the analysis produced by The Lancet and backed by the Royal College of Physicians of London, UK.

There are also millions more suffering from undernutrition in some of the poorest countries as a result of climate change, the researchers say.

Last year climate-related extreme weather events cost the world some 129 billion dollars – affecting the poorest countries more than the wealthiest, they say.

The researchers warn that cases of dengue fever have nearly doubled every decade.

They say there are indications of technology and social structures adapting to low-carbon technology – but this is not fast enough to meet global targets. As an example, global exposure to air pollution has increased by 11.2% since 1990.

One of the analysts Professor Hugh Montgomery, of University College, London, UK, said: “We are only just beginning to feel the impacts of climate change. Any small amount of resilience we may take for granted today will be stretched to breaking point sooner than we may imagine.

“We cannot simply adapt our way out of this, but need to treat both the cause and the symptoms of climate change. There are many ways to do both that make better use of overstretched healthcare budgets and improve lives in the process.”

Another analyst Professor Anthony Costello, a director at the World Health Organisation, said: “Climate change is happening and it’s a health issue today for millions worldwide.

“The outlook is challenging, but we still have an opportunity to turn a looming medical emergency into the most significant advance for public health this century.

“We need urgent action to cut greenhouse gas emissions. The health and economic benefits on offer are huge. The cost of inaction will be counted in preventable loss of life, on a large scale.”

Professor Stephen Holgate, of the Royal College of Physicians, added: “The UK is leading the way internationally on many areas of climate and health – with the recent T-charge a good example. Yet it continues to miss the glaring opportunities that can be implemented today with highly substantial benefit.”

The Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change First Annual Report 31 October 2017 [abstract]

Tags: General Health | UK News | World Health

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