Climate Change : An Already Health Emergency

climate change ice

(Unsplash, 2019)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr. Abdullah Mohammed Baghfar, a second year medical student at Hadhramout University College of Medicine (HUCOM), Yemen.   He 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.

Have you ever heard about climate change? If not you are just like me days ago, so when I’ve heard about this term l start looking and reading online, l was surprised that there are a lot of information and researches about climate change and its effects on environment and health so, l’m hear today to answer two main questions: what does climate change mean ? And  What is the impact of climate change on our health?

Our climate has changed many times during the planet’s history, with events ranging from ice ages to long periods of warmth, which caused only by natural processes and factors such as Changes in the sun’s intensity, Volcanic eruptions, slow changes in the Earth’s orbit around the sun, or natural processes within the climate system such as changes in ocean current circulation .

However the different about this period of the earth’s history is that human activities are significantly contributing to natural climate change through our emissions of greenhouse gases .

So, climate change, is defined as a significant change in the measures of climate, such as temperature, rainfall, or wind, lasting for an extended period – decades or longer which poses a wide range of risks to population health .

According to the world health organization (WHO) the climate change affect the health in many different ways such as:

  1. Extreme heat: extreme high air temperatures contribute directly to deaths from cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, particularly among elderly people. In the heat wave of summer 2003 in Europe for example, more than 70 000 excess deaths were recorded, also extreme heat leads to global warming: which is a long-term rising in the average temperature of the Earth’s climate system, although global warming may bring some localized benefits, such as fewer winter deaths in temperate climates and increased food production in certain areas, but the overall health effects of a changing climate are likely to be overwhelmingly negative.
  2. Natural disasters: the number of reported weather-related natural disasters has more than tripled since the 1960s. Every year, these disasters result in over 60 000 deaths, mainly in developing countries .
  3. Variable rainfall patterns: are likely to affect the supply of fresh water. A lack of safe water can compromise hygiene and increase the risk of diarrheal disease, which kills over 500 000 children aged under 5 years.
  4. Patterns of infection: Climatic conditions strongly affect water-borne diseases and diseases transmitted through insects, snails or other cold blooded animals especially malaria which kills over 400 000 people every year – mainly African children under 5 years old .
  5. Harming of mental health: a study, published recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), reveals that short-term exposure to more extreme weather, high temperature over several years, and exposure to tropical cyclones are associated with deteriorating mental health, the researchers noted that the effects of climate change are likely to undermine mental health through a variety of direct and indirect mechanisms.

The world has only 10 years to cut global warming by 1.5 degrees Celsius to cope with the catastrophic effects of climate change, according to a warning from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to the world in its latest report issued in early October.

So, what is our role in this? How can we reduce the effect of climate change? In my opinion the most powerful way is to be informed and to wide our knowledge about climate change because if we know what causing climate change  we will be able to avoid it and as they said ‘’ if reason is known, there will be no wonder ‘’ .

Climate change is the greatest challenge of the 21st century, threatening human health and development. The longer we delay action, the greater the risks to human lives and health.

About the author

Abdullah Mohammed Baghfar is a 19-year-old from Yemen. He is a second year medical student at Hadhramout University College of Medicine (HUCOM) and a member of National Association of Medical Student in Yemen (NAMS-Hadhramout) and Care For All forum (CFA). He has participated in many different programs including the Future Scientists Program which was organized by Hadhramout Foundation for Invention. He also has a first aid certificate which allows his to do some volunteer work in the medical field whenever there is a chance, such as The World Diabetes Day that was organized by Hadhramout Health Organization (HHO), where he was a member of Medical Committee. He hopes that one day he will be able to make a positive change on the medical field in general and public health in particular in his country.

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