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  • Don’t leave health out of climate change

    ‘Climate change is no longer only an environmental issue but a health issue as well.’ That was the message from the head of the World Health Organisation’s climate change team at the start of a conference last month aimed at putting health at the heart of forthcoming international negotiations on reducing greenhouse gases.

    The WHO estimates that an additional 250,000 lives could be lost each year between 2030 and 2050 as a result of climate change. A third of them would come from malnutrition as agriculture suffers from droughts, a quarter from malaria which is expected to spread as malaria-carrying mosquitoes thrive in warmer temperatures, a fifth from diarrhoea, and the rest from illnesses caused by extreme heat. It says the poorer nations will be worst hit.
    The WHO’s climate chief, Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum, told the conference: ‘We know heatwaves kill people, we proved that in Europe in 2003. But what is currently considered a one-in-20-year event will become a one-in-five-year event, while the population that is most vulnerable to heatwaves – older people – is going up.’
    The WHO estimates the health costs associated with climate change will be between €2.6bn and €5.2bn per year by 2030.