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  • 22 November, 2022

  • 6 Min Read

Global Health and Climate Change

Global Health and Climate Change

Reliance on fossil fuels, according to the Lancet report on Health and Climate Change: Health at the Mercy of Fossil Fuels, raises the risk of disease, food insecurity, and other heat-related illnesses.

What are the Report's Findings?

  • Impact on Health: Climate change has an impact on the social and environmental determinants of health, such as clean air, safe drinking water, enough food, and safe shelter.
  • Heatwave Exposure: Rapidly rising temperatures exposed people, particularly vulnerable populations (adults over 65 and children under one) to 3.7 billion more heatwave days in 2021 than in 1986-2005.
  • Infectious Diseases: Climate change is having an impact on the spread of infectious diseases, increasing the risk of emerging diseases and co-epidemics.
  • For example, it shows that coastal waters are becoming more conducive to the spread of Vibrio pathogens.
  • The number of months suitable for malaria transmission has increased in the Americas and Africa's highlands.
  • Climate change, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), is expected to cause approximately 2,50,000 additional deaths per year between 2030 and 2050 due to malnutrition, malaria, diarrhoea, and heat stress.

Food Safety:

  • Climate change has an impact on all aspects of food security.
  • Higher temperatures directly threaten crop yields by shortening the growing season for many cereal crops.
  • Extreme weather events disrupt supply chains, jeopardising food availability, accessibility, stability, and utilisation.
  • During the Covid-19 pandemic, the prevalence of malnutrition increased, and up to 161 million more people will go hungry in 2020 than in 2019.
  • Russia's invasion of Ukraine has exacerbated the situation.
  • Fossil Fuel: The Russia-Ukraine conflict has prompted many countries to seek alternative fuels to Russian oil and gas, and some are still relying on traditional thermal energy.
  • Even if only for a short time, renewed interest in coal could reverse gains in air quality and hasten climate change, which threatens human survival.

What are the recommendations?

Response Focused on Health:

  • A health-centered response to the concurrent climate, energy, and cost-of-living crises offers the opportunity to deliver a healthy,
  • Improvements in air quality will aid in the prevention of deaths caused by exposure to ambient PM2.5 derived from fossil fuels, and the emphasis on low-carbon travel and urbanisation will encourage physical activity, which will benefit both physical and mental health.
  • Transition to a More Balanced and Plant-Based Diet:An expedited transition to more plant-based diets would help reduce emissions from red meat and milk production, as well as prevent diet-related deaths, while also significantly lowering the risk of zoonotic diseases.
  • This type of health-focused shift would reduce the burden of communicable and noncommunicable diseases, as well as the strain on health-care providers, resulting in more robust health-care systems.
  • Global Collaboration: Global coordination, funding, transparency, and cooperation between governments, communities, civil society, businesses, and public health leaders is required to reduce or prevent the vulnerabilities that the world is otherwise exposed to.

Source: The Hindu

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