Skip to content Skip to navigation

Climate change has implications on public health

The World Health Day this year (7 April 2008) focuses on the need to protect health from the adverse effects of climate change. The theme "protecting health from climate change" puts health at the centre of the global dialogue about climate change. The World Health Organization (WHO) selected this theme for the World Health Day in recognition that climate change is posing ever growing threats to global public health security.

The appalling conditions of health responses during civil unrest, violence and natural calamities like floods in India are well-documented. Also the disease outbreaks, especially water-borne diseases, have been posing an enormous challenge in such situations.

People requiring long-term ongoing care and treatment, are left with hardly any choice to adhere to their drug-regimens during civil unrest or natural calamities. For example people with tuberculosis (TB) who are required to adhere to the anti-TB drugs, often struggle to reach to the TB clinics and the risk to develop anti-TB drug-resistance is enormous. Similarly people living with HIV are struggling to reach to the clinics for the ongoing treatment, care and support services, particularly those who need anti-retroviral drugs and are not able to access them.

Moreover natural calamities escalate the risk of disease transmission and exacerbate the vulnerabilities of people to infectious diseases. With health systems disrupted and healthcare providers often at risk of facing violence themselves, it is a serious concern how to effectively improve health responses during civil unrest, violence and natural calamities.

According to the WHO, "through increased collaboration, the global community will be better prepared to cope with climate-related health challenges worldwide." Examples of such collaborative actions are: strengthening surveillance and control of infectious diseases like tuberculosis (TB), ensuring safer use of diminishing water supplies, and coordinating health action in emergencies.

Overwhelming evidence shows that human activities are affecting the global climate, with serious implications for public health. Catastrophic weather events, variable climates that affect food and water supplies, new patterns of infectious disease outbreaks, and emerging diseases linked to ecosystem changes, are all associated with global warming and pose health risks.

Climate and weather already exert strong influences on health: through deaths in heat waves, and in natural disasters such as floods, as well as influencing patterns of life-threatening vector-borne diseases such as malaria.

Continuing climate change will affect, in profoundly adverse ways, some of the most fundamental determinants of health: food, air and water, according to WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan. Malnutrition, lack of access to basic sanitation including access to safe drinking water, and pollution are known factors to aggravate the risk to respiratory diseases including TB.

Areas with weak health infrastructure - mostly in developing countries - will be the least able to cope without assistance to prepare and respond. These impacts will be disproportionately greater in vulnerable populations, which include the very young, elderly, medically infirm, poor and isolated populations.

Increasing global temperatures affect levels and seasonal patterns of both man-made and natural air-borne particles, such as plant pollen, which can trigger asthma. About 300 million people suffer from asthma, and 255 000 people died of the disease in 2005. Asthma deaths are expected to increase by almost 20% in the next 10 years if urgent actions to curb climate change and prepare for its consequences are not taken.

The health impacts of climate change will be difficult to reverse in a few years or decades. Yet, many of these possible impacts can be avoided or controlled. There are established steps in health and related sectors to reduce the exposure to and the effect of changing climate. For example, controlling disease vectors, reducing pollution from transport and efficient land use and water management are well-known and tested measures that can help.

However government of India's response in efficient land use and water management to mitigate the adverse impact of the global climate has been appalling.

The privatization of water, use of agriculture lands as special economic zone for rapid industrialization, heavy displacement of poor people with 'development projects' which put them at grave risk of infectious diseases, are certainly not going to help India in minimizing the harm of the climate change.

Add new comment

Random Stories

Extra marital affair: man kills wife

7 Aug 2011 - 7:21pm | AT News
In yet another bizarre incident that sends shockwave across the state, a man beheaded his wife in Dibrugarh district on Sunday. The accused, Polit Paik of Sessa Maoidamoni village under Barbaruah...

Teachers suspend evaluation duties

18 Apr 2015 - 9:03am | Hantigiri Narzary
Teachers in Chirang district suspended their duties of paper evaluation of HSLC examinations for indefinite period following non-release of arrears and salaries before Bihu as they urged the...

Beltola limping back to normalcy

25 Nov 2007 - 7:25am | pbaruah
The situation in the city is limping back to normalcy a day after a string of violence in the Beltola area of the city where several people are feared killed besides as many as two hundred injured....

Award to Padmeswar Gogoi

11 Nov 2012 - 3:42pm | Ritupallab Saikia
As in the past, this year too Kaziranga Wildlife Society (KWLS)confer its Lifetime Achievement Award for the year 2012 on a worthy achiever from the state Dr. Padmeswar Gogoi, whose contributions to...

Other Contents by Author

"In terms of maximizing impact and joining forces to control the epidemic, this merger is an innovative and bold move," said Dr. Peter Piot, UNAIDS Executive Director. "This is the sort of consolidation I believe we will see more of in the future across the AIDS sector."Formal merger negotiations were announced between Health...
The 'We reject Indo US Nuclear Deal' campaign was launched today in Lucknow by Dr Sandeep Pandey, Ramon Magsaysay Awardee (2002) and convener of National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM). Dr Pandey was speaking on Indo US Nuclear Deal at Rao's IAS coaching centre on Faizabad road."The dream to provide electricity across the country by signing the Indo US Nuclear Deal is not true" said Dr Pandey. "Nuclear power is not a safe, affordable or better option for producing electricity. Rather nuclear power is a very dangerous and expensive option. The Indo US Nuclear Deal is actually a political and military deal" said Dr Pandey.There is a deliberate misinformation being...
Last week the bollywood heartthrob film-star Aamir Khan was found smoking after the launch of the latest blockbuster movie 'jaane tu … ya jaane na'. Earlier in June 2008, he was reported saying that he is back to smoking due to 'stress' related to the forthcoming release of 'jaane tu … ya jaane na' film and he will quit smoking right after the film-release. Although the film has been successfully released and is doing well at box office, the cigarettes are hard to leave… and Aamir continues to smoke. Tobacco is addictive, and some researchers feel nicotine is as addictive as heroin. It is not impossible to quit, but not easy too, because tobacco is so...
Despite of the India's legally-binding Cigarette and Other tobacco products Act (2003) and repeated appeals of India's Health and Family Welfare Minister Dr Anbumani Ramadoss to bollywood film-stars to refrain from on-screen smoking, there seems to be less compliance in the guise of 'creative liberty'.On 30 June 2008, the Goa Bench of Mumbai High Court issued notice to megastar 'Big B' - Amitabh Bachchan - and others for allegedly violating the Anti-Tobacco Act. Goa-based anti-tobacco organisation, National Organisation for Tobacco Eradication (NOTE), had filed the case against Bachchan and others after billboards showing the megastar smoking a cigar were raised on the Goa highway. Indian...
NAPM demands immediate closure of the Counter-Insurgency and Jungle Warfare School at Vairengte in Mizoram Amidst protests against price rises of essential items throughout the country, the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has again started harping on the issue of the Indo-US Nuclear Deal. Activists of National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM) - the largest network of people's struggles in India - opposed the deal. "The Deal has been pushed forward in India in an anti-democratic manner without approval of the Parliament - in fact in the teeth of opposition by a large majority of parliamentarians" said Dr Sandeep Pandey, who is a Ramon Magsaysay Awardee (2002) and a convener of...
A 10-days fast (16 - 25 June 2008) demanding the release of Dr Binayak Sen began today in India, Pakistan, Thailand, US and UK. More than 100 organizations have endorsed this fast and campaign demanding justice for Dr Sen worldwide.Twenty-two Nobel laureates from around the world had earlier appealed to the Indian government to allow Dr Binayak Sen to receive the 2008 Jonathan Mann Award for Global Health and Human Rights in person at the end of May 2008. But Indian government denied the permission and Dr Sen's wife received the coveted award on his behalf.Dr Binayak Sen of Raipur, Chhattisgarh, India, who has helped establish a hospital serving poor mine workers in the region, founded a...
This posting is based on The Times of India news published on 8 June 2008, to read the news, click here The ITC's license to purchase 500,000 metric tonnes of wheat directly from the farmers in Uttar Pradesh (UP) state was suspended till 30 June 2008 by UP state government. Despite of a UP government's cabinet order not to purchase wheat till 30 June 2008 during the 'Rabi' crop harvesting season, and another state government's order on 25 May 2008 which fixes stock limit for traders, ITC could manage to get a license issued from Agriculture department of UP government on 30 May 2008 to purchase 500,000 metric tonnes of wheat directly from the farmers. When the leading English newspaper...
On June 9, for the first-time government, public health and business leaders, heads of UN agencies and advocates are coming together at United Nations (UN) Headquarters to acknowledge HIV/TB as an urgent priority. This first HIV/TB Global Leaders' Forum, convened by Dr Jorge Sampaio, the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy to Stop TB, seeks to galvanize leadership at all levels. The 2008 Anti-Tuberculosis Drug Resistance in the World report and the 2008 Global Tuberculosis Epidemic report of World Health Organization (WHO) clearly mandates much heightened urgency in responding to TB-HIV co-infection.India continues to have the highest TB burden in the world. TB is the leading cause of...
Land-mafia in Kanpur in connivance with officials of Kanpur Development Authority (KDA) have slapped false fabricated charges against an Right-to-Information (RTI) campaign leader - Roby Sharma.Roby has been spearheading the RTI campaign in Kanpur since past two years now, exposing corruption and championing people's causes across the city.Roby had filed a RTI application seeking the information from the KDA and Fire Department officials on how many multi-storey buildings are following the fire-safety norms setup by them, and how many of these buildings have obtained a no-objection certificate from the fire department.Roby had further asked under the RTI Act that under which government...
A human rights activist was arrested in Manipur for discussing a state government's decision in a public forum. Sapam Kangleipal Meitei, 27 years, was discussing the impact of arming the civilians with weapons on the conditions prevalent in Manipur state. The state government had decided to give 500 gun licenses to natives of two villages in Manipur state. State government decided to hand over 500 gun licenses to civilians because armed cadres of People Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (PREPAK), an armed opposition group in Manipur, had reportedly shot-dead two girls and a boy while seriously injuring the eyes of another girl on 24 March 2008. So the civilians of these villages were...