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Fri Apr 6, 2012, 09:14 AM

Climate Change Impact on Human Health Overlooked


CLIMATE RISK: Human health will be at risk from climate change, such as the increased risk of water-borne diseases like cholera in the wake of flooding. Image: Wikimedia Commons/Horace Murray, U.S. Army

Scientists and public officials need to do more to show the public how climate change affects diseases and physical well-being, according to researchers.

"Human health is largely neglected, if not entirely ignored, in debates about climate change," said Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organization.

Speaking yesterday in a Web-based seminar, Chan said record floods in places like Pakistan put more people at risk for water-borne diseases like cholera, and record droughts in the horn of Africa are putting more people at risk for starvation while exacerbating existing medical conditions for close to 30 million people.

Anthony McMichael, a professor of population health at the Australian National University, said health impacts can come directly from the climate, like heat waves and extreme weather, or indirectly through famine and exposures to disease vectors like mosquitoes.

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