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Climate Change And Its Impacts On Public Health

A healthy environment is equivalent to a healthy community.A healthy environment does not only encompass clean air, water and other resources but also it involves the environmental awareness that the communities have in regards to environmental knowledge and resources.When the communities have been equipped with sufficient knowledge and resources they will be able to adapt to climate and environmental changes.

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Consequently, the purpose of this paper is to discuss the impacts of climate change on public health.

Background

Climate change has greatly impacted on the public health. A study done in 2014 by the National Climate Assessment indicated that climate change as a big challenge to the health of people and their well-being. In the modern world, effects of climate change on the public health are being experienced and this includes malnutrition due to lack of adequate food, heat-related diseases, water-borne and air-borne diseases and other issues.

Furthermore, climate change has resulted in many weather disasters such as drought, tornados or ocean waves on the mainland, insect-related infections and low quality of air (APHA. 2015). These issues affect almost every human being in one or another. In the United Sates, climate change is a threat to national health and thus, a need of a comprehensive approach in finding solutions to the problem (APHA. 2015). Scientists and climatologists indicate the earth is warming at a rapid rate and this has resulted in climate change.

Therefore, coming up with measures will help in preventing injuries, saving lives and saving of millions for future health care costs. One of the studies carried out by some scientists showed that 14 billion dollars is the cost of premature deaths and diseases that are related to climate change impacts including pollution, flooding, heat waves, hurricanes, mosquito-borne diseases and wildfires.

For example, San Francisco is expected to have almost 40 extreme heat events per year by 2030 and more than 1000 yearly by 2100 (APHA. 2015). The most individuals that will be affected are the vulnerable in the society such as the elderly, children and the homeless. In response to such forecast, San Francisco Climate and Health Program started its heat vulnerability index to analyze the neighborhoods that will be affected by the extreme heat (APHA. 2015). The index is currently being utilized in many adaptation efforts to mitigate the problem. In summary, impacts of climate change on health is a reality that have increased many of the risks experienced in health care (APHA. 2015).

Problem Statement

Climate change has affected the well-being of individuals as well as their health. As much as the world is more concentrated on the impacts of climate change on the environment, it is also important to look at the ways the public health has been affected by this problem. Furthermore, the health of individuals depends on their surroundings.

Health Risks due to Climate Change

Climate change results in warmer temperatures and high rainfall that lead to vector-borne illness
Increase in heat-related diseases like heat stroke and dehydration

Climate change increases the frequency of natural disasters that include, landslides, heat waves, wildfires, floods and hurricanes that might result to deaths, injuries and diseases.

Displacement of vulnerable population such as the elderly and homeless

Flooding and heavy rains may affect local sewage and drainage systems leading to contamination of drinking water and this may result in water-borne diseases.

Solutions

In solving the climate change risks on public care, the government officials and administrators should develop adaptation and mitigation measures. Such measures will be used to protect the community and the vulnerable populations (Levy, & Patz, 2015).

National climate change policies should be developed by the officials and administrators to deal with this situation. For instance, the U.S. experiences hurricanes and tornados now and then due to the climate change. Therefore, the implementation of these preventive health impact and adaptation policies will guide the different government stakeholders and communities.

Further, the government should enhance its research efforts on health and climate changes to help in coming up with a framework to solve the existing effects of the issue. For example, in 2010, different government agencies in the country and the US National Institute of Health established eleven main areas of health-related research.

These areas were reduced to four classified sections including susceptibility, vulnerability and refugee populations; public health and medical services; required technology and ability; and last publicity and education. Such dimensions are necessary as they help in the government to recognize the areas that need immediate intervention (Peterson, 2014). Last, the government should develop indicators to tack any changes in the environment and how such changes impact on the people.

Impact on the Health Care Delivery System

Climate change affects the health care delivery system in various ways. First, it directly affects it through the disasters that occur. For example, Hurricane Sandy affected the Bellevue Hospital and New York Langone Medical Center and people had to be evacuated (Skoll World Forum. 2013.

Such incidents delays care to the affected and also limits the resources as there is destruction such as during Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans (Skoll World Forum. 2013. Thus, healthcare facilities need to have mechanisms to respond to climate changes. Also, health care system is affected as there is increase of number of patients due to the impacts of climate changes such as diseases, injuries and deaths.

Conclusion

Public health has faced challenges due to climate change. The climate change affects the conditions of the environment and results in other problems such as warmer temperatures, heavy rainfall and floods. Such problems can be solved by increasing the research efforts, developing policies and establishing indicators. The health care delivery system is affected through increase of patients, decrease of resources and facilities.

References

  • APHA. (2015, March). ADAPTATION IN ACTION: Grantee Success Stories from CDC’s Climate and Health Program. Retrieved from https://www.apha.org/topics-and-issues/climate-change
  • Levy, B., & Patz, J. (2015). Climate Change, Human Rights, and Social Justice. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2214999615012242
  • Peterson, J. (2014). Health Care Facilities Resilient to Climate Change Impacts. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4276665/
  • Skoll World Forum. (2013, April 8). What does Climate Change Have to Do With Health Care? Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/skollworldforum/2013/04/07/what-does-climate-change-have-to-do-with-health-care/#571b89607915