Climate Crisis is a Health Crisis

Climate Crisis is a Health Crisis

04.3.2020

Photo by Li-An Lim on Unsplash

 

“Change is the only constant in life” and survival of any species depend on its capacity to adapt to this change. Ironically, we human beings enforced the climate change or environmental degradation on ourselves from our actions or so-called inactions to which mere adaptation to this change may not necessarily help to survive our species.

As I was working on this post, the WHO flashed a news on emergence of Coronavirus in China and preliminary investigation revealed environmental samples positive for coronavirus in seafood. Based on multitude of research, the current scenario of climate change and environmental degradation are proven mostly due to human activities, affecting our health and life enormously.

The Lancet Countdown report 2018 on health and climate change has summarized these multifaceted effects aptly. The impacts are disproportionately affecting the health of vulnerable populations in low and middle-income countries; in addition to staggering economic losses of about 129 billion USD from 1990 to 2016 due to climate related events.

WHO enlisted 10 threats to global health starting with air pollution and climate change on top of the list claiming it as one of the greatest challenge of the 21st century. It has been a great public health concern due to its implication on reduction in food production precipitating issue of undernutrition, increase in vector-borne diseases, emergence of high threat pathogens such as Ebola, increase in evidence of dengue and cholera, occupational health hazards, rising incidence of extreme weather such has heat wave, draughts, floods, and wildfire.

WHO enlisted 10 threats to global health starting with air pollution and climate change on top of the list claiming it as one of the greatest challenge of the 21st century

Eventually, these impacts are no more restricted to low-income countries and consequences of disturbed equilibrium of our ecosystem is seen globally. Thus, it is not an understatement by WHO to say that “Climate Crisis is a Health Crisis”. Global Health priorities, though burdened with other proximal health concerns, cannot ignore a threat of climate crisis which is a root cause of many public health issues.

Unfortunately, we continue to show our apathy and inertia towards this existential threat to mankind. The efforts in the form of Paris agreement, establishment of Green Climate Fund, and Sustainable Development Goals (12 out of 17 directly linked to climate change) are positive signs; however, it is believed to be too little too late.

The Lancet Countdown Report 2018, showed either limited progress in already delayed response of global efforts or moves going in wrong directions. Hence, due to its complexity, climate change warrants multidisciplinary collaborations with measurable outputs. Nevertheless, the United Nation believes that it is doable. Taking climate action now makes good economic sense. The more we delay, the more we pay.

There is a growing trend of awareness of climate change in general public putting pressure on the policy makers. Recently, UK Parliament declared a climate change emergency and Denmark introduced ambitious climate change policy; however, media and government continue to shy away from portraying it as a public health concern.

There is a growing trend of awareness of climate change in general public putting pressure on the policy makers

We as a global health professionals along with direct health care providers could be ideal advocate for collective action towards the policies of climate change; owing to the fact that we are more equipped and well received by the general public. Turning climate change legislation into public health policy is a need of an hour.

The only way forward is back and restrain ourselves from damaging our only available ecosystem under the disguise of innovation, rising living standards, and globalization. There is no PLANet B for us and we should not soil our own nest to the extent that it may not support us any further. On a closing remark, I would like to cite an example of Bhutan-The Happiest Country in the World, could be an inspiration to us, which has maintained its own ecosystem, preserving its rich culture and at the same time increasing its economy.


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