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Decoding Climate Change And Its Impact On Health

According to the WHO, between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 2,50,000 additional deaths per year, from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhoea and heat stress alone

Decoding Climate Change And Its Impact On Health

New Delhi: According to the new ‘EarthTime Visualisation’ report released at the World Economic Forum’s Sustainable Development Impact Summit, a record increase in temperature is expected in the United States, India and across South Asia for longer periods of time, reported PTI, a news agency on September 23. As per the same report, the national capital Delhi may have eight months a year with temperature averaging 32°C by 2100, up from six at present. The findings are like a cautionary warning against the worsening global warming scenario.

Also Read: Expert View: Five Reasons Why You Should Care About Biodiversity Loss

Wildfires across the globe, rising temperature, extreme weather, an increase in carbon dioxide levels, rising sea levels and melting poles are a result of climate change or global warming. Climate change not only affects the physical environment but also many of the social and environmental determinants of health – clean air, safe drinking water, sufficient food and secure shelter – which further affect human health.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 2,50,000 additional deaths per year, from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhoea and heat stress alone.

The direct damage costs to health is estimated to be between USD 2-4 billion per year by 2030. Areas with weak health infrastructure – mostly in developing countries – will be the least able to cope without assistance to prepare and respond, states the WHO.

Here’s How Climate Change Impact Health

Increases The Prevalence Of Malnutrition

According to WHO, rising temperatures and variable precipitation are likely to decrease the production of staple foods in many of the poorest regions which in turn will increase the prevalence of malnutrition and undernutrition.

Also Read: National Nutrition Month: How SuPoshan Sanginis Are Spreading The Idea Of Nutrition And Supporting POSHAN Abhiyaan

Further explaining the relationship between climate change and malnutrition, Basanta Kumar Kar, Recipient of the Global Nutrition Leadership Award, said, that the depletion and erosion of land, temporal and spatial changes in precipitation, population pressure to an already overburdened food and nutrition system compound the nutrition vulnerability. He added,

The continuous rise in temperature and increased dryness during pre-summer season may accelerate the rate of forest fire incidence and drought thus affecting lower yield. Further, soil erosion can decrease micronutrient contents in the soil thus decreasing the micronutrients in final produce. It can result in calorie, protein and micronutrient inadequacy in a larger population thus affecting the health and environment. Also, the increase in heavy metal contamination in the water can affect the final produce and alternatively affect the poor health.

Infections And Vector-borne Diseases

A vector is an organism, typically a biting insect or tick, that transmits a disease or an infection from an infected human or animal to an uninfected human. Climate change directly affects the emergence of vector-borne diseases, their transmission dynamics, and geographic spread.

For example, dengue transmission is rare in winters. Extreme heat or hot and humid weather and rainy season means a rise in dengue cases. Similarly, Malaria transmitted by Anopheles mosquitoes is strongly influenced by climate.

The Aedes mosquito vector of dengue is also highly sensitive to climate conditions, and studies suggest that climate change is likely to continue to increase exposure to dengue, said WHO.

Also Read: COVID-19, Dengue Double Infection Treatment Complicated; Needs Balanced Approach: Experts

Extreme Heat And Respiratory Infections

Dr Vikrant Shah, Consulting Physician, Intensivist and Infection Disease Specialist, at Zen Multispecialty Hospital in Mumbai, explained the impact of extreme air temperatures and heat on human health. He said,

Climate change is one of the reasons behind many of the wildfires across the world. These wildfires affect in two ways – create warm waves which will further cause heat stroke, headache, and weakness; secondly, because of fires, the normal protecting layer in the environment which is called air gases will be affected, contributing to the build-up of harmful air pollutants and in turn respiratory illnesses.

According to the WHO, pollen and other aeroallergen levels are also higher in extreme heat. These can trigger asthma, which affects around 300 million people.

Small children, the elderly, and certain other groups including people with chronic diseases, low-income populations, and outdoor workers have a higher risk for heat-related illnesses.

Also Read: Significant Improvement In Air Quality During Coronavirus Lockdown: Central Pollution Control Board’s Report

Decreased Air Quality, Increased Cardiovascular Diseases

Higher temperatures lead to an increase in allergens and harmful air pollutants. For instance, longer warm seasons can mean longer pollen seasons – which can increase allergic sensitisations and asthma episodes and diminish productive work and school days, states the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a leading national public health institute of the United States.

More and larger wildfires linked to climate change could also significantly reduce air quality and affect people’s health. Like, exposure to smoke increases acute or sudden onset of respiratory illness, respiratory and cardiovascular hospitalisations, and medical visits for lung illnesses. The frequency of wildfires is expected to increase as drought conditions become more prevalent.

People with existing pollen allergies may have an increased risk of acute respiratory effects.

Also Read: This Is How The Environment Is Healing During The COVID-19 Lockdown

Water-borne Diseases

Climate change involves a shift in the weather pattern; increasingly variable rainfall patterns are likely to affect the supply of freshwater. A lack of safe water can compromise hygiene and increase the risk of diarrhoeal disease. In extreme cases, water scarcity leads to drought and famine.

Floods also heighten the risk of water-borne diseases, and create breeding grounds for disease-carrying insects such as mosquitoes. Floods also lead to drownings, cause physical injuries, damage homes and disrupt the supply of medical and health services.

Dr Shah says that rain, stagnant water and warm temperature together become a breeding ground for dengue infection.

Flooded materials in homes, schools, and businesses can cause mold to grow and be inhaled, contributing to respiratory problems, explained CDC.

Variable precipitation can decrease the production of staple foods and again impact the food supply and amplify malnutrition and undernutrition.

Also Read: A Diarrhoea Free India: Water, Sanitation And Hygiene Measures For Clean And Healthy India

Who Is At A Higher Risk Of Developing Severe Health Conditions Due To Climate Change?

Dr Vikrant Shah and WHO believe that everyone is will be affected by climate change. But, children, elderly people and individuals with comorbidities like diabetes, heart disease, asthma, hypertension, and renal diseases and people on steroids are at a higher risk as their immunity is comparatively low.

Also Read: Expert Opinion: The Right To Breathe Clean Air

Dr Shah further said,

At the end of the day, it is your immune system that protects you from contracting a disease and aids in fighting against diseases. Children under 10 years of age have natural immunity but we are in the day and age where children have poor dietary habits. They rely more on junk food than a balanced diet as a result of which they suffer from vitamin deficiencies. This further makes the human body more prone to infections.

What Measures Are Required To Subside The Impact Of Climate Change?

Dr Shah suggested going back to the basics which include ‘save water’, ‘save trees’, ‘plant trees’, and creating awareness, among others. Mr Kar has called for a Jan Andolan (people’s movement) to make a sustainable planet a household name. Mr Kar emphasised on collaborative efforts and said,

There have to be structural reforms that can reduce carbon emissions, and cut the burden of household air pollution. Our public health and nutrition programmes need to mainstream climate change and the sustainable planet as an agenda. Our industries and the private sector must collaborate and complement.

Also Read: Actor Bhumi Pednekar Engages With School Students To Raise Awareness On Climate Conservation

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene.  

World

22,70,55,138Cases
18,97,86,461Active
3,25,98,424Recovered
46,70,253Deaths
Coronavirus has spread to 195 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 22,70,55,138 and 46,70,253 have died; 18,97,86,461 are active cases and 3,25,98,424 have recovered as on September 17, 2021 at 5:36 am.

India

3,33,81,728 34,403Cases
3,39,0563,867Active
3,25,98,424 37,950Recovered
4,44,248 320Deaths
In India, there are 3,33,81,728 confirmed cases including 4,44,248 deaths. The number of active cases is 3,39,056 and 3,25,98,424 have recovered as on September 17, 2021 at 2:30 am.

State Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths
Maharashtra

65,11,525 3,595

52,893 310

63,20,310 3,240

1,38,322 45

Kerala

44,46,228 22,182

1,86,754 4,559

42,36,309 26,563

23,165 178

Karnataka

29,65,191 1,108

16,202 282

29,11,434 808

37,555 18

Tamil Nadu

26,40,361 1,693

16,756 120

25,88,334 1,548

35,271 25

Andhra Pradesh

20,34,786 1,367

14,708 105

20,06,034 1,248

14,044 14

Uttar Pradesh

17,09,628 23

193 11

16,86,549 11

22,886 1

West Bengal

15,59,567 707

8,025 25

15,32,922 725

18,620 7

Delhi

14,38,373 28

409 5

14,12,880 22

25,084 1

Odisha

10,18,298 580

5,335 105

10,04,845 681

8,118 4

Chhattisgarh

10,04,988 31

352 2

9,91,077 29

13,559

Rajasthan

9,54,230 4

103 1

9,45,173 5

8,954

Gujarat

8,25,677 22

149 0

8,15,446 22

10,082

Madhya Pradesh

7,92,374 7

119 5

7,81,738 12

10,517

Haryana

7,70,697 9

327 8

7,60,562 17

9,808

Bihar

7,25,864 12

72 6

7,16,134 6

9,658

Telangana

6,62,785 259

5,282 43

6,53,603 301

3,900 1

Punjab

6,01,180 30

314 11

5,84,399 38

16,467 3

Assam

5,97,074 468

5,381 15

5,85,914 479

5,779 4

Jharkhand

3,48,102 6

102 8

3,42,867 14

5,133

Uttarakhand

3,43,330 20

284 12

3,35,657 32

7,389

Jammu And Kashmir

3,27,466 170

1,421 72

3,21,630 98

4,415

Himachal Pradesh

2,16,430 127

1,568 82

2,11,215 206

3,647 3

Goa

1,75,183 95

699 1

1,71,195 96

3,289

Puducherry

1,25,170 107

963 63

1,22,380 42

1,827 2

Manipur

1,17,913 216

2,614 7

1,13,478 219

1,821 4

Tripura

83,787 31

427 26

82,553 56

807 1

Meghalaya

78,958 229

1,804 140

75,784 86

1,370 3

Mizoram

76,591 1,121

13,888 85

62,449 1,202

254 4

Chandigarh

65,168 4

31 2

64,319 2

818

Arunachal Pradesh

53,990 47

536 9

53,183 56

271

Sikkim

30,802 64

775 28

29,648 36

379

Nagaland

30,763 32

505 14

29,610 44

648 2

Ladakh

20,631 6

41 1

20,383 5

207

Dadra And Nagar Haveli

10,670

5 0

10,661

4

Lakshadweep

10,353

4 0

10,298

51

Andaman And Nicobar Islands

7,595 3

15 2

7,451 1

129

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