Discuss its impact on human health and how this is being managed in NZ today
For the public health community, climate has always been an important consideration. Every epidemiologist knows that “climatic factors are important determinants of human health and well-being” (Menne & Ebi, 2006, p.56). World Health Organization (WHO) stated that “there is growing evidence that changes in the global climate will have profound effects on the health and well-being of citizens in countries throughout the world” (Pollution Probe Organization, 2004, p.30). Climate change will have both direct and indirect impacts on human health and many are predictable but some not. Impact would be both positive and negative, although some positive impact on human health may result from climate change as warmer winters could reduce cold-related death, but still lots of experts scientific reviews predict mostly negative than its positive effects (Pollution Probe Organization, 2004).
The major direct impacts on human health are heatwaves and winter cold, which also related to the extreme climate events such as floods, cyclones, storm-surges and drought (Menne & Ebi, 2006). According to WHO report in 2003, approximately 150,000 deaths were caused by climate change in 2000; according to World Meteorological Organization, it estimated that weather and climate related disasters claim nearly 225,000 lives annually globe (Pollution Probe Organization, 2004).
Heatwaves can cause adverse health effects, such as heat cramps, fainting, heat exhaustion and heartstroke (known as the most serious illness related to heat) and the risk of death and serious illness would increase principally in the older age groups, people with weak heats or cardiac diseases and also the urban poor (Pollution Probe Organization, 2004). In 2003, approximately 70,000 people were killed from the European heatwaves; unfortunately there were no epidemiological models to predict before the incident (The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2007). Additionally, the other possible harmful health effects apart from heat-related deaths could be the serious non-fatal effects from heat stress from the outdoor workers who worked under extreme exposure of higher temperature for a long period of time without breaks or even without opportunities to rehydrate incident (The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2007).
Currently, in Auckland and Christchurch, a small number of heat-related deaths occur each year in people aged over 65 and this is predicted to increase. (McMichael, Campbell-Lendrum, Corvalan, Ebi, Githeko, Scheraga & Woodward, 2003). However, many people live in New Zealand are pay less attention towards on rising temperature and climate change because they believe that cold and damp winter weather is bad for their health (Howden-Chapman, Chapman, Hales, Britton & Wilson, 2010). This belief can have changes to their behaviors and a problem towards adapting to climate change; therefore the New Zealand government action to support this is critically important. Additionally, the New Zealand’s average winter temperature is about 16℃ (WHO recommends 18℃ to 21℃) and about 1,600 excess winter deaths (likely to decline) from respiratory and circulatory problems which compared to about 900 deaths attribute annually to traffic pollution (Howden-Chapman, Hales, Wilson & Viggers, n.d.).
Climate change also affects human health indirectly by affecting the environment and ecosystem. The infectious diseases, mainly vector-borne and water-borne diseases and food-related illness, are the major example of its indirect impacts on human health (Howden-Chapman et al, 2010). The warmth and increased rainfall variability are likely to contribute to increase these infectious diseases such as cholera, diarrhoeal diseases, malaria, dengue and other infections carried by vectors (McMichael et al, 2003). According to WHO...