Climate Change to spur allergies, ticks, malaria: UN
Reuters News Service, May 22, 2007
Experts at the World Health Organization's (WHO) annual assembly in
Respiratory and heart problems may become more marked following heat waves and increased particulate matter such as dust in the air, said Bettina Menne of the WHO's European division. She noted allergy-causing pollen could be released earlier and last longer with warmer temperatures.
She cited the movement of ticks, small mites that can spread lyme disease, into northern
"Climate change has already affected human health," she told a WHO technical meeting on Monday evening.
Outbreaks of cholera and malaria in the developing world were a result of environmental shifts affecting parasites and water sources, she said.
South Asia was described in the session as particularly at risk because of its flood-prone low-lying countries such as
Maria Neira, the WHO's director for public health and the environment, said it was critical for policy-makers to remember that climate change would have a broader impact than often-discussed environmental and economic threats.
Health experts should be more involved in decision-making on energy use and conservation, and should impress upon political leaders the need for more emergency preparedness in health, such as the fast distribution of malaria nets and drugs, Neira said.
"The health community, more and more, needs to influence and be present when those decisions are taken," she said.