There is solid scientific evidence that shows that the world’s climate is changing, and it is due in large part to diverse human activities related to the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation and agricultural practices.
The warming of the planet will be gradual but the extreme climate phenomenon – such as tropical storms, heat waves, drought and floods – will continue to become more frequent and intense, and disrupt the balance of the natural systems that supply the basic necessities for life. The effects of climate change have important socioeconomic impacts on countries’ development, environment, and on the health and well-being of their populations. The adverse health impacts caused by climate change result from climatic influences on vector-borne disease transmission, water- and food-borne disease transmission, food and water security, social and economic dislocation, and population displacement.
In the Americas, the major areas of concern are increases in extreme weather events, changes in food supply and nutritional security, changes in water supply, changes in vector-borne disease range and distribution, and rising sea levels. The most vulnerable groups include children under five, pregnant and lactating women, older adults, marginalized rural and urban populations, indigenous populations, and displaced populations, and populations suffering from poverty, food political conflict, and disease. PAHO and the countries in the Americas are working closely together on the changing climate in the Region to increase awareness of the health consequences, assess country-specific risks, strengthen health systems, facilitate public health collaboration with other sectors, and establish cross-disciplinary relationships to implement science-based adaptation priorities.
World Health Day 2008: Protecting Health from Climate Change