Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Endangered Environment, Endangered Health

Global warming and the attendant climate change that comes with it have been acknowledged as new threats to global health security. This year’s World Health Day theme - World Health Day 2008: protecting health from climate change - further underscores the urgency of dealing with global warming.

In a statement released to the media, World Health Organization Director General Dr. Margaret Chan warned that the rising global temperature “can affect some of the most fundamental determinants of health: air, water, food, shelter and freedom from disease." "The core concern is succinctly stated: climate change endangers human health," she added.

The tolls from climate change-induced deaths are already staggering. In a summary report of the World Health Day 2008: protecting health from climate change, the following annual death tolls were released:

• 800,000 from pollution-related diseases
• 1.8 million from diarrheal diseases caused by lack of potable water and unsanitary conditions
• 3.5 million from malnutrition
• 60,000 from natural disaster.

This 12th issue of Health Alert discusses key issues surrounding global warming. The editorial, “What price development?” shows how the race for economic progress practically leaves the environment in ruins. “Hazards of climate change,” meanwhile, discusses in details how climate change poses a challenge in global health security.

“Investments and profits in mining: implications on health” shows how the mining industry affects the environment and the people’s health. The author maintains that current mining practices employed by transnational corporations leave the community more vulnerable to diseases and disasters.

Climate change also alters the weather pattern, resulting in more severe disasters. The last two articles, “Tsunami postscript: rebuilding a nation after a disaster” and “Towards achieving disaster-resilient community,” offers valuable tips on how to deal with disasters.

For request of copies of Health Alert Asia Pacific, you may write to hain@hain.org