Global climate change: consequences for human health in Brazilian cities

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(Unsplash, 2019)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Lívia Teodosio, a 3rd-year medical student at Federal University of Alagoas (UFAL), Brazil. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


The process of global climate change, which has been worsening in recent decades, reveals to the world a perspective on the causes and role of environmental changes on human health. Global climate change is gradually affecting human health mainly through changes in the patterns of endemic infectious diseases transmitted by water or animal vectors. In view of the creation of environmental conditions more favorable to the reproduction and survival of vectors and pathogens.

Furthermore, these climatic changes show that all countries and regions of the world can be considered more or less vulnerable to the consequences of climatic phenoms. Brazil, in its turn, has as its main vulnerabilities infrastructural problems in the socio-environmental and epidemiological area, as also the Brazilian territory, has several endemic infectious diseases sensitive to the climate, and may favor an increase in the incidence of these pathologies.

Nevertheless, it presents a large part of the population with low access to basic health goods and services, highlighting the neediest population that is most exposed to climatic hazards. It is worth highlighting the vulnerability of the semi-arid region of the Northeast of Brazil due to its greater predisposition to the impacts of the climate on health, due to its semiarid situation, associated with low social indicators, difficulty access to health and a high level of morbimortality aggravated by diseases changes.

Faced with this, the health sector faces a big challenge. Climate change threatens the achievements and efforts to reduce contagious and non-contagious diseases throughout Brazil. It is important to emphasize that the health sector must take measures aiming at the greater effectiveness of sectoral actions that are of predominant importance for the attendance of increased demand of services, due to exacerbated climatic effects.

Therefore, intensification of vector control actions (eg, dengue); urgent medical attention and other preventive actions will be required. Nonetheless, the role of governments is to anticipate events that may expose plots of the population, and it is of fundamental importance to develop public strategies that may mitigate the effects of warming in Brazil. In addition to the necessary and expected social improvements, such as improved sanitation infrastructure, as well as improved effectiveness of health care and disease control in general.

So here’s the maxim: “For complex problems, there are no simple solutions.” The consequences of climate change on human health must be at the center of the global discussion so that both the prevention and adaptation measures are taken to minimize and improve the consequences that are already being felt. It is up to the health sector not only to prevent such risks but to mitigate social vulnerabilities by taking “adaptation” measures and interventions. Adaptive actions specific to the health sector should prioritize reducing the incidence of endemic infectious diseases and reducing the exposure of urban populations to climate risks.

About the author

Lívia Teodosio is a 3rd-year medical student at Federal University of Alagoas (UFAL) , Brazil. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA BRAZIL), as currently an active Trainee. She is very interested in the area of ​​research and extracurricular projects. Also, she really hopes to work as a surgeon for Doctors without borders someday. Furthermore, she has a lot of interest in projects that try to make health a human right for everyone and disseminating health information to lay people and academics.. She believes that any human has the chance to live a dignified life

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