Scientists and doctors at the 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) held in Dubai emphasized the increasing evidence of the impact of climate change on public health.
So, how does climate change affect human health?
The number of deaths due to heat stress is on the rise, with 2023 potentially being the hottest year on record. Scientists estimate that over 62,000 people in Europe died from heat-related causes in 2022.
In coastal areas, a phenomenon is being observed where warming is associated with decreased salinity due to frequent extreme rainfall, resulting in the inflow of freshwater into the ocean and lowering salinity levels. These conditions provide favorable environments for pathogenic bacteria of the Vibrio genus, including critically important pathogens such as Vibrio cholerae, which causes cholera, and Vibrio parahaemolyticus, which causes gastroenteritis.
In addition to diseases transmitted by mosquitoes, other diseases like Onchocerciasis (river blindness) and African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness) are spread by parasites and flies, which thrive in a warmer world.
One of the biggest killers is air pollution caused by burning fossil fuels, estimated to cause 7 million deaths annually.
Addressing the complex interplay between climate change and human health requires collective efforts from governments, policymakers, healthcare professionals, and individuals alike. By recognizing the significant health risks posed by climate change and taking decisive action, we can safeguard the well-being of current and future generations, ensuring a healthier and more resilient world for all.