Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Health impacts of climate change already evident in Indonesia, minister says

Jakarta Globe (Indonesia): As temperatures begin to rise due to the impact of climate change, the burden of disease and health risks also escalate, the Ministry of Health said on Tuesday. “Climate change is not tomorrow’s issue, it’s happening right now and it’s affecting people’s health as well as contributing to more premature deaths,” Wan Alkadri, director of environmental health at the ministry, told a seminar held in conjunction with the World Health Organization and the French Embassy.

Wan said that health problems associated with climate change were likely to hit developing countries and coastal populations hardest, citing as an example predictions that sea levels could rise by up to 60 centimeters if global warming was not addressed. “Indonesia is particularly at risk because we are a tropical country, and as a developing country we still have limited resources to tackle the issue,” he said.

Climate change has damaged ecosystems, raised world temperatures, changed rainfall patterns and raised sea levels, all of which, Wan said, could lead to potentially fatal health problems. “In Pekalongan in Central Java for instance, seawater is already flooding neighborhoods in the vicinity all the time and people get sick easily.”

Wan also said climate change often triggered extreme events, including floods, landslides and tidal flooding. These extreme events, he said, were tied to higher health risks as they promoted the spread of many diseases by increasing the number of transmittable disease vectors….

Floods north of Jakarta in 2002, shot by Hullie at nl.wikipedia, Wikimedia Commons, under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2

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