“Climate change is creating the ideal conditions for the transmission of infectious diseases, potentially undoing decades of progress in controlling diseases such as dengue, Zika, malaria and cholera,” says The Lancet's 2021 report on health and change climate.
The study, which tracks 44 health impact indicators directly linked to climate change, shows that, overall, national health systems are poorly prepared for current and future climate-induced shocks, as only 45 of a set of 91 countries (49%) assessed their vulnerabilities in this regard.
“The potential for outbreaks of dengue, chikungunya and Zika is increasing more rapidly in countries with a very high human development index, including European countries”, adds the “Lancet Countdown”, which brings together the findings of 38 academic institutions and UN agencies.
In addition, the adequacy of conditions for malaria infections is growing in regions considered to be colder in countries with low human development index, the research says, considering that the coastal areas of northern Europe and the US are becoming become “more conducive” to the development of bacteria that produce gastroenteritis and serious infections.
"This is our sixth report tracking progress on health and climate change and unfortunately we are not yet seeing the accelerated change we need. This year we have seen more people suffering from intense heat waves, deadly floods and wildfires These are severe warnings that each day we delay the response to climate change, the situation becomes more critical”, said Maria Romanello, one of the authors of the study.
The document further notes that "many covid-19 recovery plans are not compatible with the Paris Agreement (on reducing greenhouse gas emissions) and therefore will have long-term health implications."
Given this, the report argues that less than a dollar in every five spent on the recovery of the pandemic is directed towards the goal of reducing emissions.
According to The Lancet, more than 569 million people live less than five meters above sea level, at risk of flooding and the 'salinization' of soil and water, which could force migration to regions of the interior on term.
The study data also indicate that about 19% of the Earth's surface was affected by extreme drought in a given month in 2020, a phenomenon that had not exceeded 13% between 1930 and 1999.
“Climate change is driving an increase in the frequency, intensity and duration of drought events, threatening water security, sanitation and food productivity, and increasing the risk of forest fires and exposure to pollutants”, warns the report, as it moves forward that the five years with the most areas affected by extreme drought occurred since 2015.
The document also calls for global leaders to take advantage of the post-pandemic phase to implement economic and environmentally sustainable recovery plans.
“As governments move from emergency spending to long-term post-pandemic recovery, it is vital that more funds are invested to minimize climate change,” the report says.