by Amanda Keifer, September 21, 2012

The Weekly Climate Change and Health News Roundup is your place for all the latest news on the health effects of climate change around the world.

North America: "Five Diseases on the Move in North America, Thanks to Climate Change" 

Some nasty diseases are making their mark on the U.S., possibly due to warmer temps and rising seas.


India: "More Spent on Climate Change Adaptation Than on Health Sector"

The Union government’s spending on climate change “adaptation” is more than its spending on the health sector, said a top official of the Union Finance Ministry on Monday.

Global: "Hunger May be Largest Impact of Climate Change - Expert"

Malnutrition is likely to be the most serious health threat linked to climate shifts in the coming decades, as farmers struggle to cope with more unpredictable weather, a top health expert has said.


United Kingdom: "REPORT: Health Effects of Climate Change in the UK 2012" 

The study, Health Effects of Climate Change in the UK 2012, is an extensive update of earlier reports published by the Department of Health and the report is also being presented at the HPA’s annual conference – Health Protection 2012 – at the University of Warwick today.

by Amanda Keifer, September 12, 2012

The Weekly Climate Change and Health News Roundup is your place for all the latest news on the health effects of climate change around the world.

United States: "Why Climate Change Is a Public Health Issue" 

Some public health officials argue that the image associated with global warming shouldn’t be a polar bear surrounded by melting ice caps, but rather a child suffering from heat exhaustion.

United Kingdom: "Climate change will extend hay fever season by six weeks, report warns" 

Hay fever sufferers face longer pollen seasons and highly allergenic new strains from invasive plants, a new report on the health effects of climate change on the UK warned on Tuesday.

Pakistan: "Mapping Vulnerability to Climate Change and its Repercussions on Human Health in Pakistan" 

Globalization and health: Pakistan is highly vulnerable to climate change due to its geographic location, high dependence on agriculture and water resources, low adaptive capacity of its people, and weak system of emergency preparedness. This paper is the first ever attempt to rank the agro-ecological zones in Pakistan according to their vulnerability to climate change and to identify the potential health repercussions of each manifestation of climate change in the context of Pakistan.


United States: "When Heat Kills: Global Warming as a Public Health Threat" 

Epidemiologist George Luber at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the most obvious risk from a warming world is killer heat. A deadly heat wave that struck Chicago in 1995 made many people aware of how disastrous sustained high temperatures can be.


United States: "Record Outbreak: West Nile Virus Fueled by Climate Change" 

As if raging forest fires, hurricanes, record drought and increasing tornadoes are not enough, evidence is pointing to climate change as the reason that the West Nile virus is killing more people this year then ever before and quickly turning into the worst outbreak in U.S. history.


United States: "The Connections Between Climate Change and Dangers to our Health Continue to Grow" 

And last November, Scientific American reported that, “Climate change can influence how infectious diseases affect the world, particularly illnesses spread by vectors like mosquitoes." 

by Jeff Meer, September 07, 2012

The New York Times published a blog ( on the difficulty in establishing clear scientific evidence of the effects of climate change on public health.  The consensus of many experts, including several from within the United States Government, seems to be that the connections between the two fields need much more rigorous analysis, despite all of the circumstantial evidence linking them.

by Amanda Keifer, September 04, 2012

The Weekly Climate Change and Health News Roundup is your place for all the latest news on the health effects of climate change around the world. 

Boston: "Climate Change: Coping With the Health Effects of Rising Temperatures"

Recently, city leaders have started to consider strategies for coping with the coming effects of climate change in Massachusetts. With the average annual temperature already on the rise — up 1.5 degrees over the past 100 years — Greater Boston communities are looking at ways to handle the effects an increased number of heat waves could have on our health. 

United States: "Climate Change & Health: Dramatic Rise in West Nile Virus"

Over the past week, twenty-eight people in the US have died from West Nile Virus as the number of cases rose from 693 from 390 over a one week period, a USA Today article reports this morning.  

California: "Climate Change Brings Tropical Diseases Closer to California"

Fielding urged lawmakers to restore funding to the Centers for Disease Control to help local public health departments prepare for insect-borne diseases and other side effects of climate change.

United States: "Is Climate Change to Blame for This Year's West Nile Outbreak?"

According to the Centers for Disease Control, there have been over 1100 reported cases of West Nile virus disease in the US this year, including 42 deaths. If these numbers seem high, they are – in fact, it’s the highest number of reported cases since West Nile was first detected in the US in 1999, and West Nile season has just begun. 

by Cristina Tirado, June 25, 2012

Rio+20 was a once-in-a-generation opportunity to shape the future we want for our children and future inhabitants of our planet.  Despite the high expectations the world had for Rio+20, the final declaration here failed to address the central dilemma of protecting the environment while encouraging human development and growth. The Rio+20 declaration lacks ambition, commitment and respect for our future generations. It is, instead, an attack on human rights and inter-generational justice.

While the overall outcome of Rio+20 was a failure, there were some bright spots. For example, health was recognized as an integral issue for sustainable development.  The Rio+20 declaration states that health is “a precondition for, an outcome of, and indicator of all three dimensions of sustainable development.” The declaration also recognizes that “the global burden and threat of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) constitutes one of the major challenges for sustainable development in the twenty-first century” and recommends governments commit to strengthening health systems to provide equitable, universal coverage and promote affordable access to prevention, treatment, care and support related to NCDs.

The advancement  of health at Rio was the result of advocacy by the World Health Organizations, health and human rights NGOs such as the Public Health Institute, and several national delegations such as Brazil . While health issues were integrated in the declaration, the lack of progress on other critical sustainable development issues from the Rio+20 process, as well as the lack of vision and the absence of significant commitments, is of great concern. There is some hope that these shortcomings could be overcome during the drafting of global Sustainable Development Goals to succeed the Millennium Development Goals, although the process over the next several years for doing so is unclear.

Many civil society groups have expressed disappointment with the process and have refused to endorse the Rio+20 declaration. For example, the human rights cluster jointly stated “The future that we want has commitment and action to reverse the environmental and economic crisis, not postpone it.” The challenge now is to move our governments and institutions toward demanding new thinking. We must also motivate the grassroots and consider creating a new mechanism to represent the interest of future generations in sustainability and climate negotiations.


by Cristina Tirado, June 25, 2012

Food and nutrition security, health, gender equality, climate change and environmental degradation, including loss of biodiversity are closely interlinked. Climate change and environmental degradation undermine the ability of people to move out of poverty and compromise their full enjoyment of human rights.  This has a direct impact on the health and food and nutrition security of millions of people – particularly women and their children.

There are 925 million hungry people in the world and three quarters of all hungry people in the world – some 700 million – live in rural areas. Half of them are farming families, who survive of marginal lands or holdings too small to support their needs, while the other half are landless families dependent on farming, herding, fishing or forest resources, as well as the urban poor. Food and nutrition insecurity and ill health are associated with poverty and gender inequality: 60 percent of chronically hungry people are women and girls.  Furthermore, globally and with few exceptions, rural women fare worse than rural men and urban women and men for every indicator for which data are available.

Several factors are critical to countering these challenges:

  • Women’s empowerment, engagement and transformational leadership play a critical role in the shift to sustainable and resilient development pathways that ensure global health, food and nutrition security and prosperity. Increasing women’s access to and control over productive resources would enable them to increase yields on their farms, leading to increased incomes. Research indicates that an increase in women’s incomes translates into improved child nutrition, health and education.  
  • A climate justice approach with an emphasis on protecting human rights, participation, transparency and accountability, together with investments in social safety nets and in sustainable livelihoods, can make development more inclusive and equitable.
  • Integrated strategies are needed to address the interlinked issues of food and nutrition security, health, gender equality, climate change and environmental degradation. 

Stakeholders in the different fields have identified successful strategies for addressing the challenges that climate change and environmental degradation pose to food and nutrition security and health. But there is a tendency to address these issues through siloed approaches, which reduces their effectiveness and impact. The future we want should ensure that these strategies are integrated and addressed from a gender responsive and human rights perspective. This calls for effective, transparent and results-oriented partnerships working together to achieve equitable and climate-resilient sustainable development.

Multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholders partnerships are critical to promoting synergies and reaching common goals on food and nutrition security, health and climate change in the context of RIO+20 and the post-2015 MDG framework.  Key priorities must be to protect and build human and social capital, focusing on education, social protection and capacity building; to protect and uphold human rights and to adopt a climate justice approach to these linked challenges; to address gender inequalities and to socially and economically empower women; to support civil society organizations so that they can better interact with the public and private sectors and more effectively engage in policy dialogue with governments; and to build government capacity for joint planning across ministries and sectors. This also requires aligned donor support for cross-sectoral programming and implementation among UN agencies and other stakeholders.

The Public Health Institute organized in collaboration with the World Food Program, the World Health Organization, Food and Agriculture Organization, IFAD, MRFCJ and UNDP  a high level event in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 />Rio+20 “Partnerships for the integration of food and nutrition security, health and gender equality to achieve climate-resilient sustainable development.” You can see the event at

Here is a link to the Policy Brief launched at the event:

For more information, please read the Outreach magazine from the Stakeholder Forum featured this event and the associated interview :