Climate Change Is Harming Health Of Children

Climate change is already damaging the health of the world’s children and is set to endanger the well-being of an entire generation, unless the world meets the target to limit warming to well below 2°C, according to a major new report published in The Lancet. ‘The Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change’ is a comprehensive yearly analysis tracking progress across 41 key indicators. The project is a collaboration between 120 experts from 35 institutions, including the World Health Organisation, the World Bank, University College London, and the Tsinghua University in Beijing. The report notes that as temperatures rise, infants will bear the greatest burden of malnutrition and rising food prices — average yield potential of maize and rice has declined almost 2% in India since the 1960s, with malnutrition already responsible for two-thirds of the deaths of children under five years. Also, children will suffer most from the rise in infectious diseases — with climatic suitability for the Vibrio bacteria that cause cholera rising 3% a year in India since the early 1980s, the study warns. Co-author Poornima Prabhakaran, Public Health Foundation of India, said: “With its huge population and high rates of healthcare inequality, poverty and malnutrition, few countries are likely to suffer from the health effects of climate change as much as India.” She explained that diarrhoeal infections, a major cause of child mortality, will spread into new areas, whilst deadly heat waves could soon become the norm. “Over the past two decades, the government of India has launched many initiatives and programmes to address a variety of diseases and risk factors. But this report shows that the public health gains achieved over the past 50 years could soon be reversed by the changing climate,” she said.

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