Ageing, urban population vulnerable to heat-related death

Ageing, urban population vulnerable to heat-related death

A farmer points to some of the banana trees dotting the steep hillsides in villages in Anjouan that used to burst with fruit but are struggling or dying due to changing weather and soil erosion.

"We don't see these health impacts individually, "stated Kristie L. Ebi, a professor at the University of Washington and one of the authors of the report". That was 18 million more than in 2016, the researchers said.

Storms and floods, for instance, do not only cause direct injuries but can also shut down hospitals, spur disease outbreaks and produce lingering mental health problems, as people lose their homes, he said.

Experts also noted that the heat will threaten food security, safe drinking water, and clean air. The public themselves can also help by putting the vehicle away and walking or cycling more. In particular, stronger labor regulations are needed to protect workers from extremes of heat and hospitals and the health systems we rely on need to be better equipped for extreme heat so they are able to cope.

According to the Lancet Countdown 2018 on Health and Climate Change report, globally each person was exposed to an additional 1.4 days of heat wave between 2000 and 2017 compared to the baseline period of 1986 to 2005.

Already, 157 million more people worldwide were exposed to heatwaves past year than in 2000, according to the report. In 2017, 153 billion hours of labour were lost due to heat exposure, an increase of 62 billion hours relative to the year 2000.

For the agriculture sector alone, the labour hours lost increased from about 40,000 million hours in 2000 to about 60,000 million hours in 2017, says a briefing paper for Indian policy makers by the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) based on the Lancet Countdown report. According to the report, Canada's failure to cut greenhouse-gas emissions is not only affecting the planet by increasing global warming but is also putting Canadians' health at risk.

People in Europe and the eastern Mediterranean are more vulnerable than those in Africa and Southeast Asia, probably because many older Europeans live in cities.

England and Wales, for instance, saw 700 more deaths than normal during a 15-day hot spell in June and July this year, Watts said.

"We've long known that the scope of medicine extends outside the exam room, but this report calls on doctors to recognize that it extends to our climate", she said.

"Keep in mind that for every statistic there is a personal story", she urged.

Observing that a recent report "places India amongst the countries who most experience high social and economic costs from climate change", the study makes several recommendations.

Hugh Montgomery, co-chair of The Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change and director of the Institute for Human Health and Performance, University College London says: "Heat stress is hitting hard - particularly amongst the urban elderly, and those with underlying health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes or chronic kidney disease".

And higher temperatures seem to be curbing the maximum harvest from farmland in all regions of the world, reversing an earlier trend toward ever-larger harvests, the report noted.

Mental health threats, meanwhile - from children anxious about their future in an overheating world to families stressed by disaster losses - are on the rise, she said. Formed in Quebec City in 1867, the CMA's rich history of advocacy led to some of Canada's most important health policy changes.