Lives depend on climate deal as islands bear brunt of health impact

Lives depend on climate deal as islands bear brunt of health impact

By Barbara Lewis

PARIS (Reuters) – Small islands that bear the brunt of rising sea levels moreover face the greatest risk of diseases linked to a warmer planet, health leaders said on Saturday, as 13 million medical professionals added to the calls for a global climate pact.

Hundreds of thousands more people will die every year from heat stroke & tropical illnesses unless negotiators in Paris can agree a strong global deal to cap global warming, the Global Climate & Health Alliance said.

The alliance, formed at U.N. climate talks in Durban in 2011, met in central Paris on Saturday as U.N. negotiators on the outskirts of the city sought to hammer out a new climate alter pact.

The World Health Organization has warned that the effects of extreme weather on the fight against malnutrition, malaria & diarrhoea alone will account for an extra 250,000 premature deaths a year by 2030.

"In the case of small island states like Tuvalu, the health impacts of climate alter are palpable," said the island's health minister, Satini Tulaga Manuella said.

"When we are talking approximately climate change, this is significant for the future health of our people, & people everywhere."

Jone Usamate, health minister for Fiji, said the island was suffering from climate-related diseases such as dengue fever & chikungunya, a disease transmitted by mosquitoes & unknown in Fiji until the first case was confirmed in May.

"As the climate changes, we are seeing new infectious diseases & many other health impacts," he said.

The Global Climate & Health Alliance groups more than 1,700 health organisations & 8,200 hospitals & health facilities.

It said it had collected 13 million signatories from its members, amounting to a medical consensus on the need to combat global warming.

Even without the wider effects of climate change, air pollution from fossil fuels, especially from coal-fired electricity & vehicle emissions, is a major cause of early death.

In the European Union, more than 400,000 early deaths a year are linked to air pollution that causes respiratory disease & some forms of cancer, the European Commission has found.

But EU policy-makers' efforts to roll out tougher emissions standards have been repeatedly diluted as governments & member states count the short-term costs of action, which health professionals say would be far outweighed by reduced medical bills if more action were taken.

(Editing by Kevin Liffey)

Source: “Reuters”