Climate change poses a hazard to the spread of viruses in an unprepared world

LONDON: According to a recent study, climate change is creating ideal circumstances for infectious disease transmission, and the world’s healthcare systems aren’t prepared for the resulting shock.

Years of progress in controlling age-old ailments like malaria, dengue fever, and cholera are on the line unless governments agree to more aggressive climate policies, according to a study released Wednesday by the Lancet. The Lancet Countdown, the medical journal’s sixth annual publication, monitors 44 indicators of health consequences connected to climate change and exposes rising social inequality.

The British medical journal determined that the potential for viral epidemics is increasing most rapidly in wealthy countries, based on studies from 38 academic institutions and UN organisations. Malaria infections are growing more common in cool places, while germs that cause gastroenteritis and sepsis are becoming more common along the coasts of northern Europe and the United States.

Meanwhile, about 600 million people live at or below 5 meters (16 feet) above sea level, putting them at risk of flooding and severe storms. According to the research, many people may be forced to abandon their houses forever.

“These are serious signals that the situation is becoming more critical with each passing day that we delay our response to climate change,” Maria Romanello, a research director and primary author of the paper, said. “It’s time to acknowledge that no one is immune to climate change’s repercussions.”

According to the paper, less than half of the 91 nations studied had a national health and climate change plan, leaving their medical sectors exposed to climate-related shocks. Only eight of the 45 countries with a strategy had set aside cash to address the challenges indicated in their assessments.

Covid-19 has killed about 5 million people worldwide and put economies on the verge of collapse. Many countries are battling to control a rebound in infections, which is exacerbated by an unbalanced distribution of vaccines between affluent and low-income countries when countries remove lockdowns to jumpstart their economies.

The study discovered similar inequities in the global response to climate change, with underdeveloped countries trailing in attempts to decarbonize despite being the least responsible for rising emissions. Droughts will jeopardize food and water security in these countries, a problem that will affect 2 billion people in 2019, according to the research.

According to 69 percent of the countries polled, the biggest hurdle to delivering resources was a lack of funding. However, with countries pumping trillions of dollars into their economies to relaunch them amid the pandemic, the report urged policymakers to move beyond rhetoric and take action at a UN conference in Glasgow that begins at the end of the month, where world leaders, executives, and climate activists will hammer out plans to reduce carbon emissions.

The study also warned against a fossil-fuel-driven economic recovery that subsidizes oil, gas, and coal production while ignoring clean energy. Instead, the research recommends that countries generate green jobs and protect public health.

“Climate change is already wreaking havoc on human health around the world,” said Anthony Costello, executive director of the Lancet Countdown. “The recovery from Covid-19 can either be a green recovery that improves human health and reduces inequality, or a business-as-usual recovery that puts us all at danger.”

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