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Year : 2009  |  Volume : 13  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 11-16

Climate change and health: Why should India be concerned?


1 Department of Community Medicine, K. S. Hegde Medical Academy, Mangalore, India
2 Department of Periodontics, A. B. Shetty Memorial Institute of Dental Sciences, Mangalore, India

Correspondence Address:
J P Majra
Department of Community Medicine, K. S. Hegde Medical Academy, Deralakatte, Mangalore - 575001
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0019-5278.50717

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Overwhelming evidence shows that climate change presents growing threats to public health security - from extreme weather-related disasters to wider spread of such vector-borne diseases as malaria and dengue. The impacts of climate on human health will not be evenly distributed around the world. The Third Assessment Report (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change-2001) concluded that vulnerability to climate change is a function of exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity. Developing country populations, particularly in small island states, arid and high mountain zones, and in densely populated coastal areas are considered to be particularly vulnerable. India is a large developing country, with the Great Himalayas, the world's third largest ice mass in the north, 7500 km long, and densely populated coast line in the south. Nearly 700 million of her over one billion population living in rural areas directly depends on climate-sensitive sectors (agriculture, forests, and fisheries) and natural resources (such as water, biodiversity, mangroves, coastal zones, grasslands) for their subsistence and livelihoods. Heat wave, floods (land and coastal), and draughts occur commonly. Malaria, malnutrition, and diarrhea are major public health problems. Any further increase, as projected in weather-related disasters and related health effects, may cripple the already inadequate public health infrastructure in the country. Hence, there is an urgent need to respond to the situation. Response options to protect health from effects of climate change include mitigation as well as adaptation. Both can complement each other and together can significantly reduce the risks of climate change.






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