Climate Change: code red for public health

What is the news?

Lancet released its yearly Countdown on Health and Climate Change report. It tracks the relationship between climate change and public health. It highlights that there is a rapid increase in heatwave and wildlife exposure, drought and sea-level rise.

What are the key findings of the report?

Heatwaves: According to the reports, India, the US, China, Japan and Indonesia suffered the highest exposure over the past 5yrs. The effect of heat waves is highest on vulnerable populations. In 2020, the elderly suffered 3.1 bn person-days of heat exposure, compared to an average of 2.9 bn days a year over the previous decade.

Rising Temperature and food security: Temperature rise shortens the time in which plants reach their maturity, leading to smaller yields and strain on the food system. An increase of 70% is also seen in average sea surface temperature in the territorial waters of coastal countries as compared to 2003-05. This has an impact on marine food security.

Infectious Diseases:  According to the report, climate change is creating the ideal conditions for transmission of infectious diseases like zika, malaria, cholera etc.

The potential for an outbreak of these diseases is increasing most rapidly in countries with a very high development index, like Europe. But their health care system is not prepared for it. In 2021, only 45/91 countries had carried out climate change and health vulnerability and adaptation assessments.

Source: This post is based on the article “Climate Change: code red for public health” published in the Livemint on 23rd October 2021.

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