News / Health

    Climate Information Can Protect Public Health

    Michel Jarraud, Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization (file)Michel Jarraud, Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization (file)
    x
    Michel Jarraud, Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization (file)
    Michel Jarraud, Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization (file)
    Lisa Schlein
    Climate information and weather forecasts can help prevent or prepare ways to offset disease epidemics and improve health, according to a new U.N. report.  The World Meteorological Organization and World Health Organization have published the first Atlas of Health and Climate.

    The World Meteorological Organization says climate change is altering the magnitude, frequency and duration of extreme weather events.  As the world's climate continues to change, it warns hazards to human health are increasing.

    WMO scientists note droughts, floods and cyclones affect the health of millions of people each year.  Climate variability and extreme conditions such as floods can trigger epidemics of diseases, such as diarrhea, malaria, dengue and meningitis-diseases, which cause death and suffering for millions of people.

    WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud says climate services have been under-utilized for public health.  He says the Atlas of Health and Climate shows stronger cooperation between the meteorological and health communities can affect the health of societies in a profound way.

    "Let me give you an example which is more directly related to the work of WMO," said Jarraud. "Climate information about the risk of floods and cyclones, which is routinely prepared by national meteorological services, involve millions of peoples around the world."

    Director-General of the World Health Organization, Margaret Chan says her organization enthusiastically embraces collaboration with the World Meteorological Organization.   Much WHO work is focused in Africa, and Dr. Chan says climate predictions are having a beneficial impact on health in sub-Saharan Africa.  

    For example, she says every year hot and dusty winds blow across the meningitis belt that covers 20 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.  She says every year many children under age 15 die or are mentally damaged from this terrible disease.

    "What we do now is in advance of the coming of the wind, because of this climate information it allows us to do early warnings," said Chan. "So, what do we do?  We pre-position and make sure that a vaccination campaign takes place before the coming of the wind so children are protected.  So, that is one specific example."  

    The Atlas has numerous maps, tables and graphs that make the links between health and climate more explicit.  It notes in some locations the incidence of infectious diseases vary depending on weather and climate conditions.  It says stronger climate services in endemic countries can help predict the onset, intensity and duration of epidemics.

    The Atlas presents many case studies, one of the most dramatic examples of how climate preparation can save lives occurred in Bangladesh.  In 1970, about half a million people lost their lives in cyclones that hit Bangladesh.  Thanks to improved early warning systems and preparedness, the cyclone death toll in 2007 was reduced to 3,000.

    You May Like

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora