Climate change is the biggest global health threat of 21st century: Report

May 14th, 2009 - 12:29 pm ICT by ANI  

London, May 14 (ANI): While a heat wave in India has led to an increase in hospital deaths in recent weeks, scientists have claimed that climate change is the biggest global health threat of the 21st century.

In a report launched in London, doctors and climatologists have said that in the coming century, climate change will worsen virtually every known health problem, from heart disease and heatstroke to salmonella and insect-borne infectious diseases.

“The health sector has in the past not only underestimated but completely neglected and ignored the issues. This has not been an issue on the agenda of any professional body in health over the last 10 years in any significant way,” New Scientist magazine quoted Richard Horton, editor of The Lancet, as saying.

However, the doctors have said that they thought that the tide was turning.

“It is true that the health sector is beginning to wake up to this,” said Hugh Montgomery, director of University College London’s Institute for Human Health and Performance.

Anthony Costello, director of UCL’s Institute for Global Health, has said that helping write the report had been a personal wake-up call.

“I hadn’t fully understood how a change of 2 degree Celsius - which seems like a pleasant summer afternoon - has such implications for ecosystems, for water, for storm damage,” he said/

He also said that the report alerted him up to the fact that the world is facing a global crisis.

The researchers said that every society has a range of temperatures within which it can cope and outside that range, infrastructures become overloaded.

In their opinion, the most pressing health threats posed by climate change include shortages of water and food, along with war and ecological collapse.

Already, climate and health researchers have pointed out the health effects of climate change, claiming that infectious diseases like malaria and dengue are expected to spread, and kidney stones could become more frequent.

In the US and Australia, drought has already contributed to a spread of water-borne illnesses by forcing people to collect and store water in tanks for longer than they otherwise would.

In India, hospital deaths have increased in recent weeks as the nation battles a heatwave.

“This report says the medical profession has to wake up. Pulling our hair out, saying we’re all going to die horribly does not save lives,” said Maslin.

The report has been published in The Lancet. (ANI)

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