Tue | Aug 3, 2021

Letter of the Day | The health impact of climate change

Published:Wednesday | April 28, 2021 | 12:19 AM


As a high-school student, I try to keep abreast of the news of the day. I was a bit concerned when I did not see prominent news coverage last week of the announcement by US President Joe Biden of a reinvigorated policy to tackle climate change, made on Earth Day 2021.

This US initiative is coming at an interesting time for our planet, as we are dealing with a global pandemic. What I think many reporters may have missed as they covered Earth Day with the traditional news of global warming, is the health impact that climate change brings. Not much analysis or awareness of this impact is made known to the public, and it has the same potential to disrupt our daily lives similar to the havoc that the coronavirus is causing. Are we doomed to repeat our failure of understanding the linkage of our natural environment to the health of mankind?

Climate change can usher in a new wave of health crisis, as we may have to contend with more plumes of Saharan dust blanketing our cities as we did last week (asthma cases rise), lack of potable water due to periods of drought (diarrhoea and cholera sickness), and even sudden deaths caused by inclement weather conditions by those who cannot relocate.

The Pan-American Health Organization has also identified a medical crisis that can be brought about by having a hurricane destroying the electrical infrastructure that power today’s medical machines. Furthermore, as the temperature rises due to climate change, the number of mosquitoes simultaneously rises as well. The infamous Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is a vector, carries deadly diseases from organism to organisms, such as the Zika and the chikungunya viruses. Consequently, this will bring an onslaught of diseases which will surely affect a large sector of our society – rich and poor alike.

I think it is time, while COVID-19 is present, that we look at other threats to our health and start to address those areas. That is why I think we should have a more robust discussion locally on the health impact that climate change brings.