Protecting health from climate change | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 24, 2008 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, February 24, 2008

World Health Day 2008

Protecting health from climate change


Photo: Dr Tareq Salahuddin

World Health Day, on 7 April, marks the founding of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and is an opportunity to draw worldwide attention to a subject of major importance to global health each year. In 2008, World Health Day 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. WHO selected this theme in recognition that climate change is posing ever growing threats to global public health security.
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, ensuring safer use of diminishing water supplies, and coordinating health action in emergencies.
Climate change: An issue for the health sector
Health hazards from climate change are diverse and global in nature. The hazards range from higher risks of extreme weather events to changes in the dynamics of infectious diseases. Many of the leading killer diseases are sensitive to climatic conditions; their incidence and spread are likely to be affected by changing weather patterns.
The health impacts of climate change are already evident in different ways: more people are dying from excessive heat than before, changes are occurring in the incidence of vector-borne diseases, and the pattern of natural disasters is altering.
These impacts will be disproportionately greater in vulnerable populations, which include the very young, elderly, medically infirm, poor and isolated populations.
Action needs to be taken now.

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