One of the biggest problems the world is currently experiencing is climate change. Health is one of the many sectors where it is already having an impact. In 2023 and beyond, the effects of climate change on health are anticipated to worsen and have the potential to afflict a large population. This article looks at how climate change affects health, who is most impacted, and what may be done to lessen its consequences.
The Impact of Climate Change on Health
There are several detrimental implications of climate change on health. An increase in extreme weather events like heatwaves, droughts, and floods has the biggest immediate effect. These occurrences may result in physical harm, fatalities, and population displacement. Indirect effects including increased infectious disease spread and problems with mental health are also possible.
1. Extreme Heatwaves
Heatwaves are one of the most important ways that climate change affects people’s health. Particularly in sensitive populations like the elderly and young children, high temperatures can cause heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Heat waves can also make pre-existing illnesses worse, such as respiratory and cardiovascular disorders, which can result in hospitalisations and even fatalities.
2. Increased Air Pollution
Another aspect of climate change is a rise in air pollution, which has several detrimental implications on health. A variety of respiratory and cardiovascular conditions, including lung cancer and stroke, have been related to exposure to air pollution. Additionally, air pollution can exacerbate pre-existing illnesses like asthma, increasing hospitalisations and medical costs.
3. Infectious Diseases
Additionally, climate change may speed up the spread of infectious diseases. Warmer weather may cause disease vectors like mosquitoes to spread their habitats, which could result in a rise in conditions like malaria and dengue fever. Waterborne illnesses like cholera and typhoid fever can spread as a result of rising sea levels and flooding.
The Most Affected Groups
Climate change affects everyone, but certain groups are particularly vulnerable. These groups include:
- Low-income neighbourhoods: These neighbourhoods are frequently found in regions with poor air quality and sparse access to healthcare. Additionally, they are less likely to have the means to make preparations for severe weather disasters.
- Elderly individuals: Age-related illnesses are more common in the elderly, and they are also more likely to have underlying medical issues that might be made worse by extreme weather conditions.
- Children: Young people are particularly susceptible to the negative impacts of air pollution and severe weather. They are also more susceptible to contracting illnesses transmitted by water.
In 2023 and beyond, the effects of climate change on health are severe and are projected to get worse. Just a few of the detrimental implications of climate change on health include extreme weather events, air pollution, and the spread of infectious illnesses. Measures like lowering greenhouse gas emissions, enhancing air quality, making investments in healthcare infrastructure, and raising public awareness are required to lessen these effects.