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Climate change and communicable diseases

European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) last week launched a new handbook for national vulnerability, impact and adaptation assessments.


Climate change and communicable diseases in the EU Member States was lunched at a side event at the WHO 5th Ministerial on Environment and Health in Parma last week by Chief Scientist Professor Johan Giesecke of the ECDC. Climate change has already had measurable effects on the varied climates of Europe and further changes are anticipated. The transmission patterns of communicable diseases are influenced by many factors, including climatic and ecological elements. It is widely anticipated that climate change will impact the spread of communicable diseases in Europe. In some instances these impacts will be favourable, but in many cases they will pose new threats to public health.

The handbook has been developed as a resource to encourage planning activities that anticipate and address the possible impact of climate change on communicable disease spread. Informed by current climate change science, the handbook suggests various processes and important points for consideration when conducting vulnerability assessments and developing adaptation strategies for climate change.

Many countries have already developed climate change vulnerability assessments and/or adaptation strategies. The handbook is based on best practices and experiences from not only in Europe, but also from assessments undertaken in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA. Although the content and context of vulnerability and adaptation assessments will necessarily vary from country to country and region to region, the process is fundamentally similar.

This handbook stresses a methodology that involves as many different stakeholders as is feasible, is iterative in nature, and is carefully managed throughout all phases. Identifying potential vulnerabilities first requires describing the current situation, including demographic and socio-economic factors, health systems, epidemiologic factors, and information from non-health sectors. With careful analysis, priority diseases and vulnerable groups can be identified. These findings can then inform public health adaptation programs that strategically leverage existing strengths and mitigate the future weaknesses of health systems.

Download the handbook here Know more about infectious diseases and climate change

- Other reports of interest:

Climate Change: Threats to health A World Vision Report Over recent years climate change has emerged as a new driver of malnutrition. In the wake of the 2008 food crisis, the number of children with this life-threatening condition escalated, increasing mortality rates by 5-20 times. The climate emergency is poised to exacerbate children’s risk to physical injury, malnutrition and infection. For decades World Vision has worked with developing communities to help them carry an already heavy health burden from malnutrition, diarrhoea and vector-borne diseases. With climate change threatening to unravel decades of development, efforts to curb existing vulnerabilities and mainstream child-focused adaptation into development programming must be urgently stepped up. Ultimately the success of humanity adapting to a continually changing environment will be intrinsically tied to protecting the life of children. Download the report here

Climate Change and Children A Unicef report The report examines the effects of climate change on children – and examines how climate change has evolved from an ‘environmental’ issue into one that requires collective expertise in sustainable development, energy security, and the health and well-being of children. Young people speak directly through comments and letters collected by UNICEF’s Voices of Youth, child delegates to the 2007 UNEP African Regional Children’s Conference for the Environment and the 2007 World Scout Jamboree, in cooperation with the United Nations Development Programme. Download the report here

Last updated on 8 June 2011

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