Climate Change Alarms Impact On Global Health

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  • At the forefront of the annual U.N. climate summit COP28 lies an unprecedented focus: the profound intersection of climate change and public health.
  • As temperatures surge and landscapes transform, health threats escalate, spanning from heat stress to the ominous spread of diseases.
  • Within this summit, government ministers aim to deliberate on shielding populations from these climate-induced health perils, which jeopardize hard-won strides in public well-being.

Climate’s Health Impact

From 2030, experts expect that just four of these threats – malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea and heat stress – will push global death tolls up by 250,000 per year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

“Extreme weather events are becoming extreme health events,” said Martin Edlund, CEO of global health nonprofit Malaria No More.

Here’s how climate change is harming people’s health across the world today, and what countries might expect in the future.

Vector Borne Disease

From 2030, experts predict a staggering rise in global death tolls due to malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea, and heat stress, amplifying by 250,000 annually as per the WHO. Climate change fuels “extreme health events,” warns Martin Edlund from Malaria No More, exemplifying the dire impact.

Mosquito-borne diseases like dengue and malaria are expanding into new territories due to warmer climates, with reported cases soaring. Dengue cases surged from 500,000 in 2000 to over 5 million in 2019, and malaria spiked by 5 million cases in 2022, reaching a total of 249 million.

Instances like floods in Pakistan triggered a 400% uptick in malaria cases, while highland areas in Africa, once mosquito-free, now battle the disease. Amidst these challenges, promising new malaria vaccines offer a beacon of hope, slated for release next year.

Murky Water

  • Climate-induced storms and floods contribute to the resurgence of water-borne diseases like cholera, reversing decades of progress.
  • Cholera cases surged in 2022 by 25% across 44 countries due to disrupted clean water access from cyclones, floods, and droughts, leading to increased fatality rates.
  • Erratic rainfall linked to climate change amplifies diarrhea risks, affecting children under 5 as the second leading cause of death after pneumonia, claiming over half a million lives annually.

Extreme Heat

Rising temperatures intensify heat stress, impacting millions globally, with an average of 86 dangerously hot days in 2022. A 2°C increase could quadruple yearly heat-related deaths, as observed in European heatwaves claiming around 61,000 lives in 2022.

Drier forests due to heat fuel extreme wildfires, exposing over 2 billion people annually to unhealthy air pollution from fire smoke since 2010. In the United States alone, annual deaths from wildfire-related air pollution range between 4,000 to 28,000, reports the American Thoracic Society.

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Source: Reuters

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