Table of Contents
Impacts Of Climate Change On Health
Dr Banka touches upon this subject on the occasion of World Health Day, for HealthShots.
1. Climate change and infections
Climate change is increasing the risk to humans and the distribution of many infectious diseases that are vector borne, water borne or food borne and these mainly include malaria, dengue and cholera. Global warming has made conditions more suitable for transmission of these infectious diseases. By 2080, about 6 billion people will be at risk of contracting dengue fever as a consequence of climate change, compared with 3·5 billion people if the climate remained
unchanged. Various tick-borne and parasitic diseases diseases such as Schistosomiasis, leishmaniasis, Lyme borreliosis, tick-borne encephalitis, and hantavirus infections are predicted to increase as a result of climate change.
2. Climate change and nutrition
Climate change is expected to compound the issue of food insecurity leading to increased incidence of chronic undernutrition. From 1981 to 2019, maize, wheat, rice and soybean crop yield has shown a consistently downward trend and it is estimated that the number of undernourished people will increase to more than 840 million by 2030.
3. Climate change and respiratory issues
Climate change also predisposes to an increased risk of common respiratory illnesses such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and respiratory infections such as tuberculosis. With extreme temperatures, increasing outdoor and indoor air pollution and change in allergens, rise in respiratory illnesses is expected over the next few decades.
4. Climate change and non-communicable diseases
Climate change may also impact non communicable diseases such as cardiovascular diseases and cancer. It may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease either directly via air pollution and extreme temperatures or indirectly via poor nutrition. Global cancer burden is expected to rise due to air pollution, exposure to ultraviolet radiation and environmental toxins.
5. Climate change and mental health
There is a strong link between mental disorders and natural disasters. Impact of climate change on mental health can be immediate during natural calamities or can be long-term due to forced migration or deforestation. All these events affect the mental health of a population, with the appearance of psychiatric conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, mood disorders such as depression, anxiety, increased suicide rate and substance use, as well as increased aggressive behaviour.