Links between climate change and human health are underscored by the rise in diseases associated with warmer temperatures. As Grist reports below, vector borne diseases such as malaria are spreading as the insects that host them migrate to new regions. Rotavirus, an illness whose high rates have been correlated with warming temperatures and high rainfall, is another prime example. Humanity needs to find ways to adapt to these increased health threats. What better way to address health threats than to summon the help of the health sector? Some argue that vaccines, such as the one that can prevent rotavirus, could play an important role in protecting vulnerable populations from sickness caused by climate change. Can you join our leadership team in highlighting the connections between climate and health in your health care institution? We need you now more than ever.
By Jeremy Schulman I February 11, 2015
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has suggested that vaccines cause “profound mental disorders.” Paul has also said he’s “not sure anybody exactly knows why” the climate changes. So the likely presidential contender would probably find this fact pretty confusing: According to leading scientists, vaccines are among the “most effective” weapons in our arsenal for combating the threats that global warming poses to human health.
In its landmark report last year, the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that global warming poses a range of health threats — especially in the developing world. Warmer temperatures and changes in rainfall will reduce crop production, leading to malnutrition. Foodborne and waterborne illnesses will become a bigger problem. And, some scientists argue, diseases like malaria will spread as the insects that carry them migrate to new areas.
So how should humanity adapt to these dangers? The IPCC report lays out a slew of public health interventions, including widespread vaccination:
The most effective measures to reduce vulnerability in the near term are programs that implement and improve basic public health measures such as provision of clean water and sanitation, secure essential healthcare including vaccination and child health services, increase capacity for disaster preparedness and response, and alleviate poverty.
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