Friday, May 23, 2008

A model for health and climate change

From Environmental, an abstract of a paper from the European Commission, Environment DG: The impacts of climate change on human health are projected to be severe and widespread. A reliable model or software tool is needed to help quantify these impacts so that policies can be developed to mitigate against them. A recent report suggests that newly developed systems-based models need to be further expanded to allow greater quantification of climate-health relationships.

Most research on the impacts of climate change has focused on environmental impacts rather than health impacts. Models are currently available which measure the potential impacts of climate change on water resources, agriculture, coastal zones and other sectors, but there is no well-developed tool for health.

…Modelling the health impacts of diseases such as malaria is complex because a wide range of factors can influence its incidence and geographic range, such as drug resistance and economic and technological development. Current projections of the impacts of climate change on malaria take limited account of these drivers, with some projections identifying populations at risk instead of the number and location of people likely to be affected. Future models should calculate the full health burden so that proposed polices can be weighed against their consequences.

…The author writes that one of the main factors limiting the development of a model of the effects of climate change on health is the priorities of healthcare funders, who have shown little interest in interdisciplinary approaches that seek to explore, for example, the interactions of climate change and the impact of land use change on health.

Shot of a clinical thermometer by "Menchi," Wikimedia Commons, under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation license, Version 1.2

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