Climate change and its impact on the patterns of disease

Malaria in the People’s Republic of China as a case study

Authored by: Guo-Jing Yang , Xiao-Nong Zhou

Routledge Handbook of Global Public Health in Asia

Print publication date:  April  2014
Online publication date:  April  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415643825
eBook ISBN: 9781315818719
Adobe ISBN: 9781317817703


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The impact of climate change on the transmission of infectious diseases has been given much attention since the start of the new millennium. The topic was hotly debated by the board of the World Summit on Sustainable Development held in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 2002 [1]. The World Health Organization (WHO) further called on its member states to ‘Protect health from climate change’ as the theme of the World Health Day in 2008 [2]. Scientists and policymakers took these actions because research has supported the fact that climate change had impacted on human health and increased the burden of diseases, whether directly or indirectly. For instance, some reports showed that global climate change might already be responsible for over 150,000 deaths annually, including the loss of about 5 million disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) globally [3]. The direct impact is that human beings are exposed directly under the scenario of warmer temperatures, more extreme climate events and so on. The indirect impacts are that climate change also causes changes in water, air, food quality/quantity, ecosystems, agriculture, livelihoods and infrastructure, which are also huge impacts on human health [4]. These facts support the conclusion that climate change will not only affect public health (see Box 19.1), but also conservation biology, agriculture, aquaculture, fishery and livestock production [511].

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