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Climate change is also threatening health systems

Facilities of the Reference and Research Laboratory of the National Army will have the capacity to carry out 200 daily tests for COVID-19 on users of the Health Subsystem of the Military Forces.

Photo: Mauricio Alvarado Lozada

Climate change puts global health systems in check due to the increase in diseases transmitted by vectors, water and food; respiratory conditions, malnutrition, injuries and deaths related to environmental catastrophes and forced migrations due to climate, among others. (Read American doctors transplant 3D-printed ear made from human cells)

The affirmation arises from a three-year investigation that reviewed more than 500 scientific articles carried out by some 80 researchers from 50 countries grouped in the Interacademy Partnership (IAP) network of science academies.

The global report was supported by five regional research projects on climate change and health from Europe, the Eastern Mediterranean, the Middle East, Asia, the Americas and Africa.

Entitled “Health in the Climate Emergency: A Global Perspective,” the report warns that climate impacts on health will continue to increase “unless governments take urgent mitigation and adaptation measures based on available scientific evidence, which to To be effective, they must be developed in an integrated manner both at the interregional level, as well as at the national and regional levels.

“Climate change is not a new issue, but its health consequences have received less attention in the past than other facets of the problem. Hopefully the report will lead more people to realize that they are directly affected by climate change and to convey to policymakers their need to act quickly,” he tells SciDev.Net Jeremy McNeil, co-author of the global report and the Americas-focused report, and president of the Canadian Academies of Arts, Humanities and Sciences.

The study recognizes and analyzes categories of impact of climate change on human health, such as heat-related illnesses, extreme events, changes in the distribution of vector-borne diseases, forest fires and their contribution to air pollution.

According to a work by Nature Climate Change quoted in the report, in recent decades “a third of heat-related deaths can be attributed to climate change.”

Based on research from The Lancet Planetary Health, the study predicts that, left unchanged, extreme heat (a global temperature rise of 2.5°C above pre-industrial times) will prevent about billion people perform physical labor for part of the year.

By 2070, 4.7 billion new cases of dengue and malaria could be added, particularly in urban areas and lowlands, according to another article in The Lancet Planetary Health included in the IAP report.

Tomas Orduna, head of the Regional Pathology and Tropical Medicine Service at the Francisco Muñiz Hospital for Infectious Diseases (Buenos Aires, Argentina), points out that, in much of the world, when heat is combined with humidity, the proliferation of vector insects is favored of diseases. In Argentina, the dengue mosquito (Aedes aegypti) increased in number of cases and in geographic expansion in each of the epidemics recorded in recent decades (2009, 2016 and between 2019-2020).” Paradoxically, in other cases, the The increase in temperature is so intense that it generates droughts and desertification, and with them, some vectors disappear”, says Orduna.

What are the steps that Latin America and the Caribbean should take to face the consequences of climate change on health? For McNeil, “the first thing is to recognize the seriousness of the situation and the need to act immediately.” He points out that while the report provides guidance, “the effectiveness of adaptation or mitigation interventions may be diminished if action is delayed.”

Lilian Calderón-Garcidueñas, from the University of the Valley of Mexico, tells SciDev.Net that Latin America should work on preventive medicine.

“We can write hundreds of articles on climate change and health, but the important thing is that the proposed solutions are implemented. This does not happen if the authorities are not interested, if medical research is not supported and if we have poor populations, malnourished, with informal jobs, exposed to extremely high levels of air pollution from their conception, economic collapse, inflation, ineffective health systems and inefficient and dangerous means of transport”, he points out.

Horacio Riojas Rodríguez, director of Environmental Health of the National Institute of Public Health of Mexico, highlights the value of the report and points out that, with few exceptions, in the region there are no health policies related to climate change and there are no mitigation projects for cities .

“We don’t even have good early warning systems for heat waves or weather-related vector-borne diseases,” he says.

Likewise, it highlights the lack of training received on climate change and environmental issues, in general, by doctors and health personnel. “For the dimension of the problem, what we are investing in research at the local level is almost nil,” he tells SciDev.Net.

read latest health news in The Spectator.

Source: Elespectador

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