Climate Change and Human Health: Two Faces of The Same Coin

_Drought 2019__.jpeg

(Unsplash, 2019)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr. Ahmed Al-Zubaidi, a 5th year Medical student at HUCOM, Al-Mukalla, 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.

“Should health be in the center of the discussion about Climate Change?” Yes! Climate change does impact human health, both directly and indirectly, and many scientific studies have proven this to be the case. Examples of climate change’s effects on human health vary from its induction of infectious diseases to how climate change alters human health by means of dietary deprivation.

The latter could also be associated with environmental catastrophies, which play a role in influencing food production and other dietary resources. In addition, certain studies also discuss how climate change and global warming could confer human vulnerability, which links to the relationship between our health and changes in climate.

Climate change has been associated with alterations of the normal temperatures, and more so with increases in temperatures. These increases in temperature affect factors such as the presence of disease-causing pathogens, their carriers, and the ease by which these pathogens are transmitted. For instance, vectors such as insects are highly active in rising temperatures, which provide optimum conditions for their reproduction.

This in return leads to higher incidence of infections mediated by insect-carried pathogens. Diseases caused by insect-carried pathogens have been shown to correspond to shifts in climate. Such shifts could also render the environment inhospitable for growth of crops and domesticated animals and could impact the over-production of goods.

This presents a challenge that is more drastic in the case of third-world countries and can today be observed in countries such as Somalia, which is currently undergoing a disastrous drought. Such drops in agriculture, in most cases, give rise to certain deficiencies in diet, which also confer vulnerability to infections and the progression of diet-related illnesses.

Impacts of climate change on human health nowadays dominate in poor countries, and a relevant example is seen in Yemen. Yemen has recently had a cholera outbreak, which is an infection that is not necessarily difficult to control if preventative measures were provided.

The Yemeni people are also prone to other infections such as malaria and dengue. Although these outbreaks are currently being correlated with the political and economical conditions of the country, particularly the on-going war with Saudi Arabia, several research studies suggest that such outbreaks are prominent markers of an everchanging climate and human maladaptability to such changes.

This however does not aim to victimize underdeveloped countries such as Yemen or Somalia, but rather to predict that people living in such countries seldom survive the previously mentioned hazards and suffer a more amplified outcome.

In conclusion, because climate plays an important role in mediating factors that contribute and alter human health, health therefore must be centered in climate change discussions. Variations in climate contribute to alterations in the prevalence of contagious diseases, and the agricultural status of a population, which correlate with human health.

Examples of the association between human health and climate change exist today in underdeveloped countries, and such countries face stronger challenges to combat such impacts to human health.

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