Climate and Health

Although global warming may bring some positive local effects, such as less winter deaths in mild climates, and more food production in certain areas but the health impacts of a changing climate will be negative. Changes in the climate affect environmental and social factors that affect health like clean air, safe drinking water as well as adequate food supply and safe shelter. Moreover, extreme high air temperatures contribute directly to deaths from cardiovascular and respiratory illness, particularly in older individuals. In the heat wave of summer 2003 across Europe for instance there were more than 70000 excess deaths were recorded (UNEP 2004 March). Notably, high temperatures also increase the level of ozone and other airborne pollutants that exacerbate cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.

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In the world, the number of weather-related natural catastrophes reported has tripled during the decade of the 1960s. Each year, these disasters lead to more than 60 000 deaths, mostly in developing nations (WHO 2017, July). Relating to the rising sea level and increasing extreme weather events , these are destroying homes, medical facilities as well as other vital services. Over half of people live within 60 km from the ocean (Creel, 2003 September). The population could be forced to move and increase the risk of a range of health effects, including mental illnesses to transmissible illnesses. Increasingly variable rainfall patterns are likely to affect the availability of clean water. Insufficient water quality can cause health problems and increase the risk of diarrheal illness, which kills thousands of children aged less than 5 yearseach year. In extreme cases water shortages can lead to Famine and drought.

Floods are also increasing in frequency and intensity, and the frequency and intensity of extreme precipitation is predicted to continue to increase throughout the next century. Floods are a source of contamination for freshwater resources and increase the threat of water-borne disease, and create breeding grounds for insects that carry diseases, such as mosquitoes. They also cause drownings and physical injuries, destroy homes and interrupt the supply of health and medical care services.

Additionally, climate conditions are extremely affecting water-borne diseases and also diseases transmitted by snails, insects or any other cold blooded animals. Climate changes are likely to prolong the duration of transmission of vector-borne disease vectors as well as alter their geographic range. For example, climate change is projected to expand the area of China in which the disease caused by snails is schistosomiasis (WHO 2009). Malaria is strongly influenced by the climate. Transmission is carried out by Anopheles mosquitoes, malaria kills over 400 000 people every year most of them African children younger than 5 years older (WHO 2017. April).

In the end, climate change normally affect all populations, but some are more vulnerable than other. The inhabitants of small island developing states as well as other coastal regions, megacities and the mountainous and polar regions are especially vulnerable. Children, particularly youngsters living in low-income countries that are among the most vulnerable to health risks and will be longer exposed to the negative health consequences.

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