Climate change as a health risk - WHO presents project results

Climate change vulnerability assessment for the health sector in Arkhangelsk. Picture: Leonid Zubov

Rising sea levels, melting glaciers, droughts - these impacts of climate change are familiar to many people. The specific risks that climate change poses for the health care systems of many countries, however, are less frequently mentioned in newspapers and TV programmes. Growing levels of air pollution, for example, can cause respiratory illnesses and carriers of infectious diseases are spreading into new areas. Heat waves of increasing intensity place a particular burden on vulnerable groups like the elderly and people suffering from illnesses.

From 2008 to 2012, a project supported by the International Climate Initiative (IKI) and carried out by the World Health Organisation (WHO) assisted seven countries in Central Asia to adapt their health care systems to impacts of climate change that are already evident or predicted for the future. Among other things, vulnerability analyses were carried out for each health sector in terms of climate change, national adaptation plans were developed, and health care professionals received training. The project has now published a final report: Protecting health from climate change - A seven-country initiative (PDF 3.1 MB, external)

In addition, WHO published a tool developed within the context of the project, which helps in estimating the costs and benefits of adaptation measures in the health sector: Climate Change and Health: A tool to estimate health and adaptation costs (PDF 7.1 MB, external)