Climate Change & Environment Nexus Brief: Health


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Climate variabilities are intimately linked to a range of diseases caused by heat stress and to the transmission of infectious diseases attributable to altered environmental conditions. In addition, extreme weather events such as droughts, flooding and hurricanes have health consequences ranging from death, injuries and mental illness to malnutrition due to crop failure. Being strongly interlinked with both human health and the climate system, the environment acts as a major mediator in the climate-health nexus involving air pollution and climate-related effects on infectious disease occurrences.

A broad range of plausible interactions among environmental, social and behavioural factors makes the attribution of health outcomes to climate change complex, but the scientific consensus holds that the climate change effects on human health are predominantly adverse. Climate change is mainly expected to exacerbate existing health hazards among populations that are currently affected by climate sensitive diseases. In addition, existing diseases may extend their current range and new conditions may emerge.

This nexus brief* sheds light on the complex interaction between climate change and health outcomes, discusses policy responses in a development context, and identifies the environmental determinants that mediate climate impacts on human health. While the general concepts are illuminated from a global perspective, the main focus is on how the climate-health-development nexus manifests itself in low- and middle-income countries.

*Download the full text from here. This publication can also be downloaded in French and Spanish (see Further Resources).

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