News / Health

WHO: Climate Change Brings New Health Threats

A villager carrying a child crosses a flooded area in the Jorhat district, in the Indian state of Assam, August 25, 2014, where the latest heavy rains have caused landslides and floods.
A villager carrying a child crosses a flooded area in the Jorhat district, in the Indian state of Assam, August 25, 2014, where the latest heavy rains have caused landslides and floods.
Lisa Schlein

The World Health Organization (WHO) warned Wednesday that major killer diseases will spread and health problems will worsen with climate change.  

The WHO, which is holding the first global conference on health and climate in Geneva, urged nations to act quickly to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases, which lead to climate change.  

Although some countries could see localized benefits from global warming -- cold countries could experience fewer winter deaths due to more temperate weather as well as increased food production -- the WHO says overall health effects are likely to be overwhelmingly negative.  

Maria Neira, director of the Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health Department at WHO, says seven million people die prematurely every year because of air pollution, but that number can be cut.  

“We can reduce dramatically non-communicable diseases, cardiovascular diseases, heart disease, respiratory diseases, by promoting, for instance a more sustainable, low-carbon society where instead of using very pollutant and solid fuels," Neira said, "we will move into a more sustainable energy consumption and, therefore, by doing so, we will obtain plenty of benefits for our health.”  

The health community is working to improve surveillance to control infectious diseases and she says deadly diseases such as cholera, malaria and dengue are highly sensitive to weather and climate.

Recent WHO figures show that climate change already causes tens of thousands of deaths every year from shifting patterns of disease and extreme weather events, such as heat waves and floods.

Climate change is expected to cause approximately 250,000 additional deaths every year between 2030 and 2050 due to heat exposure, diarrhea, malaria, and childhood under-nutrition.

Alistair Woodward, the coordinating lead author of the health chapter of the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, says there is opportunity for positive change.

“Transport systems, which produce maybe a quarter of the greenhouse emissions, are unhealthy and damaging to the environment in many ways," Woodward said. "If we could increase the use of active transport, our estimates are putting people on bikes, the benefit cost ratio is maybe 10 to one…Air pollution…If we put in practice what we know about ways of reducing black carbon emissions, diesel filters, plain cook stoves, for example, then we could probably save around two million premature deaths a year.”  

The WHO notes that climate change also has serious economic consequences. The U.N. agency says the direct damage costs to health is estimated to be between $2 billion and $4 billion a year by 2030. 

You May Like

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: eusebio manuel vestias from: Portugal
August 28, 2014 5:20 PM
Climate change is a threat of humanity but can prevernir and anticipate its effects

by: mememine69 from: Toronto
August 28, 2014 8:49 AM
Besides being an excuse to hissy fit hate neocons, climate blame was a lazy copy and paste news editor's dream come true. Times up girls. Is science also only 95% sure the planet isn't flat as well as being a laughable 95% certain that Human CO2 "could" flatten it? Exaggeration and misguided concern and 32 years of needless CO2 panic and CO2 death threats to billions of innocent children has made fear mongering neocons out of all of us. Nice work.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Studentsi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
March 05, 2015 9:04 PM
The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More