Impact of climate change could become serious public health problem for southern Africa
Nearly 20 years ago, the World Health Organisation (WHO) conducted a study that measured the impact of climate change on worldwide human health.
The health impact of four climate-sensitive health effects - diarrhoea, malaria, health effects from inland and coastal flooding and malnutrition - were modelled and compared to figures taken from 1990.
"Southern Africa was found to be the region with the highest mortality rates from climate change in the period studied," writes Professor Rebecca Garland, principal researcher of the climate studies modelling and environmental health research group at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
The WHO study only looked at a partial list of health impacts. "However, the high impact of climate change on southern Africa still indicates a potentially serious public health problem, a fact that could additional pressures to public health services within the region.
"Since many of the potential health impacts are not new issues to the area, but rather issues that the region has been struggling with for quite some time, it's important to start developing plans and systems that will effectively protect the public's health from these health impacts," she notes.
Garland's report is contained in the second edition of the South African Risk and Vulnerability Atlas, developed by scientists at the CSIR, an entity of the Department of Science and Technology.