Health and climate

Throughout human history climate and health have been inextricably linked. The latest (2007) report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says that ‘climate change currently contributes to the global burden of disease and premature deaths’. And it will continue to do so: increased malnutrition and consequent disorders, with implications for child growth and development, can be expected. There will be more deaths, disease and injury from heatwaves, floods, storms, fires and droughts and a change in the distribution of infectious disease vectors such as mosquitoes.

The humanitarian mission of the Red Cross Red Crescent is to improve the lives of the vulnerable people, and their health plays a central role. National Societies around the world are already grappling with new health emergencies which are likely to be linked in some part to climate change. Therefore proactive adaptation strategies, policies and measures need to be taken to relieve the disease burden of the most vulnerable groups.

  • In late 2009 the Climate Centre secured funding from the Rockefeller Foundation for the proposal ‘Health risk management in a changing climate’. The project started in 2010 and ran over 2.5 years. Different project components aimed to further the understanding on how to deal with two of the main challenges to health posed by climate change by focusing on extreme events in East Africa and gradual changes in vector-borne diseases in Southeast Asia. The program will soon upload the lessons learned and final reports. An independent evaluation of the project has been done in January 2013 and is available here.
  • Read more about the initial background of the programme.
  • First web-publication half way through the program: Health risk management in a changing climate: An operational research on dengue fever prevention in Vietnam. Download the leaflet here.
  • Download the Health and care factsheet  (in English) to read more about climate change and health implications. The fact sheet is also available in Russian.
  • A Publication Health and climate change by Lina Nerlander (2009).
  • More information about health and climate can be found on the website external of the World Health Organization.

Many national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies will be touched by the health implications of climate change.

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