This week I had an opportunity to speak at the 75th World Health Assembly about the nexus between heath and climate change. The key take away is that, as climate change worsens, we can only expect individual human health to deteriorate.
It is a life-threatening condition since it causes illness and death. The way we treat this menace is what will draw the line between survival and death. We need to cut the carbon emissions that cause global warming.
The sooner we can decrease these emissions the better chance we will have at limiting warming and thus be able to neutralise health threats.
Climate change must today be considered a health emergency. This is because it is already having an impact on health in various ways, including increased death and illnesses from increasingly common extreme weather events such as heatwaves, storms, floods and drought.
There is a need to prevent these negative health outcomes. The world has to advocate for urgent action to protect human health.
Climate change has a wide range of effects on human health and diseases. Existing health hazards will become more severe, and new threats will develop. Not everyone is at risk in the same way. Age, financial resources, and location are all crucial factors to consider.
Climate change impacts health in many different ways: Increase in air temperatures, worsening air quality, the spread of infectious diseases, water insecurity, and food insecurity, among others.
According to World Health Organisation (WHO), air pollution is the single most significant environmental cause of premature death globally, leading to seven million premature deaths every year.
The world has to face this monster before it is too late. The public and private sectors have to join hands and find ways to neutralise this global threat that is now proving fatal.
Individuals and groups exposed to these risks will also have to find ways of countering the challenges and the capacity of health systems to prepare for and successfully manage the risks associated with climate change, which will influence future health risks.
Extreme weather events will become more common and more extensive due to climate change, posing dangers to health care facilities. People suffering from health effects of climate change are cared for by hospitals, health clinics, and other professionals.
Health-care facilities frequently experience operational disturbances, such as power outages or flooding, making it difficult to provide high-quality care. Therefore, the health care facilities will have to be resilient, citing a need to analyse climate change risks and implement adaptive management techniques.
There are also increased indirect impacts through natural systems, including airwave diseases and allergens. Exposure to aeroallergens aggravates disorders, including asthma and allergic respiratory ailments.
Climate change has also brought increased cardiopulmonary mortality due to high particulate matter and atmosphere levels of high toxic ozone. Such occurrences will make climate change a number one killer in the near future. The human race’s health factor is at a higher risk of adding the impacts of climate change.
In a few instances, people forget to see the health implications from the impacts of climate change. Flooding and long-term droughts, for example, have been linked to increased anxiety, sadness, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Drought has numerous and far-reaching health consequences. Drought-related health consequences can be readily observed and assessed in the short term. However, drought’s steady rise or chronic nature can have long-term, indirect health consequences that are difficult to predict or monitor.
Drought can shorten the growing season of crops and make it easier for insects and diseases to infest specific crops. Low crop yields can lead to higher food prices and scarcity, leading to malnutrition. Drought can also harm livestock reared for food to grow hungry, sick, and die.
These risks are unequally dispersed, resulting in new injustices and exacerbating existing ones. The majority of these dangers are expected to rise with each additional degree of heat.
Using an equity lens to go from incremental to transformational resilience will reduce vulnerability and increase sustainability for all, but the health system would require significantly more money for proactive and effective interventions.
The public and private sectors must now concentrate on how they will combat this health threat. Over the years, the government and international agencies have backed projects and organisations aimed at reducing the effects of climate change.
Furthermore, more institutions and programmes focusing on the health angle and how to address it need to be built as this will accelerate climate action and reduce the climate change impact on health matters.