Yesterday was World Health Day. To mark the occasion WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan warned “The core concern is succinctly stated: climate change endangers human health.”
She continued: “The warming of the planet will be gradual, but the effects of extreme weather events — more storms, floods, droughts and heat waves — will be abrupt and acutely felt. Both trends can affect some of the most fundamental determinants of health: air, water, food, shelter and freedom from disease.”
Human beings are already exposed to the effects of climate-sensitive diseases and these diseases today kill millions. They include malnutrition, which causes over 3.5 million deaths per year, diarrhoeal diseases, which kill over 1.8 million, and malaria, which kills almost 1 million.
“Although climate change is a global phenomenon, its consequences will not be evenly distributed,” said Dr Chan. “In short, climate change can affect problems that are already huge, largely concentrated in the developing world, and difficult to control.”