Health sector confronting climate change

Updated: 2007-12-11 07:28

The world must prepare now for the serious impact climate change will have on health, from a jump in waterborne diseases to heart attacks and heat-wave deaths, the World Health Organization said yesterday.

"We need to wake up," warned Alex Hildebrand, an environmental health adviser from WHO's regional office in New Delhi. "We need to take this much more seriously."

The global health body was hosting a three-day workshop during a massive climate conference on Bali island, where delegates from nearly 190 nations are seeking ways to head off dour scientific predictions.

Rising temperatures have already directly or indirectly killed more than 1 million people worldwide since 2000, WHO has said, more than half in the Asia-Pacific, the world's most populous region.

Those figures do not include deaths linked to urban air pollution. Countries such as Nepal and Bhutan have already reported vector-borne diseases like malaria for the first time in higher elevations - probably because rising temperatures are pushing mosquitoes to those areas.

Agencies

(China Daily 12/11/2007 page9)