Climate Change – Health Nexus


Climate change has led to heightened cases of health issues.

Heat-related stress

The spread of mosquito populations that spread disease into new areas as a result of rising temperatures.

  • Since warmer weather and frequent rains make it easier for mosquitoes to reproduce, mosquitoes that spread viruses like dengue, malaria, West Nile, and Zika are spreading to new regions of the world.
  • The WHO reports that the number of dengue cases reported increased from approximately 500,000 in 2000 to over 5 million in 2019.
  • According to the WHO’s World Malaria Report, there were 5 million more cases of malaria in 2022 than the year before, indicating that climate change is also having an unpredictable effect on the disease.
  • For instance, the report stated that malaria cases in Pakistan increased 400% as a result of floods in the previous year. Additionally, the illness has spread to parts of Africa’s highlands that were previously too chilly for mosquitoes.

In a similar vein, cholera cases are increasing once more following decades of progress in the fight against this intestinal infection, which is carried by tainted food and water. This is true even in nations where the disease was all but eradicated.

  • Cholera is an intestinal infection spread by contaminated food and water. Despite decades of progress in fighting the disease, cases are on the rise again, even in countries where the disease was thought to be nearly eradicated.
  • According to the WHO, there were 25% more cholera cases reported in 2022 than in 2021.
  • The WHO also mentioned how cyclones, floods, and droughts can cut off access to clean water and encourage the growth of bacteria.

The increasingly unpredictable rainfall caused by climate change also contributes to diarrhoea. It is the second greatest cause of death worldwide for children under the age of five, taking the lives of over 500,000 children annually.

As temperatures rise over the next few decades, hundreds of millions of people are expected to be affected by heat stress.

  • People will face approximately 86 days on average of dangerously high temperatures in 2022, with the world already 1.1 degrees Celsius warmer than the pre-industrial average, according to a report from the. The medical journal Lancet discovered.
  • The report stated that annual heat deaths could more than quadruple if global warming increases by 2 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels.

In addition to making forests drier, the heat has recently caused extreme wildfires to spread over vast portions of the globe.

Extreme weather, air pollution, food insecurity, water scarcity, and population displacement are all brought on by greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), and these factors in turn impact the spread of vector-borne illnesses.

The majority of the effects are felt by developing nations and SIDs, which disproportionately affect poorer and marginalised populations. Direct health effects account for 40% of climate-related poverty because they affect people’s income, productivity, and health expenses.

UNFCCC recognises the health impacts of climate change – First time addressed in COP at COP 28 – also mentioned by India during G20 health meeting

COP-28 Declaration on Climate and Health

  • 123 governments endorsed
  • 4 key areas:
    • mitigating emissions
    • health sector adaptation to climate change
    • mainstreaming of health into climate policies
    • climate financing for health.
  • Areas addressed:
    • antimicrobial resistance
    • early detection of zoonotic spill-overs
    • prevent future pandemics
      • Has not addressed fossil fuel or pollution-related harms
  • Green Climate Fund, the Asian Development Bank, the Global Fund and Rockefeller Foundation pledged a new $1 billion finance pledge for climate and health.

India’s action

India’s NDCs so far have focused on reducing emissions intensity, transitioning to non-fossil fuel sources and creating additional carbon sinks. It must include discussions on clean water, clean air and sustainable cities.

Global Climate and Health Alliance (GCHA)

  • Alliance of health NGOs, health professional organizations, and health and environment alliances from around the world – Includes public health foundation of India
  • The Alliance for Transformative Action on Climate and Health (ATACH; “the Alliance”)
  • set at COP26 to build climate resilient and sustainable health systems, using the collective power of WHO Member States
  • Areas addressed: Financing the Health Commitments, Climate Resilient Health Systems, Low Carbon Sustainable Health Systems, Supply Chains, Climate Action and Nutrition

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