HEALTH IMPACT OF CLIMATE CHANGE

Climate change represents the subtle and substantial alterations in regional and or global seasonal weather conditions mostly as a consequence of human actions, inactions, and other scarcely understood factors. Global warming which is at the front burner currently denotes a sustained rise in average global temperature with protean and variable degrees of impact in different parts of the world. It is presently the rallying cry of both state and non state climate campaigners. Preponderance of climatologists and other climate scientists believe and have postulated that human actions in the form of use of fossil fuels and other non-renewable forms energies which generate greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide are responsible for the extant development. Much as the certain regions of the world like America, China and a number of other industrialized nations are implicated in the generation of most of these deleterious greenhouse gases, the impact, though to differing extent, is global owing to the proven interconnectedness and interdependence of factors that engender climate and weather fluxes. Even though climate change may come with some trickles of positive outcomes, the fallouts are mostly unwelcoming. These effects range from draught in certain areas of the world to melting of arctic ice caps, rising sea/ocean levels, flooding, typhoon, tornadoes to massive spontaneous conflagrations as is currently happening in Southern Australia. Directly and vicariously deriving from these are famines, demographic changes, fresh water scarcity, and even outright conflicts and wars between regions and between a nation and another as a result of competition over depleted resources.

The health impacts of climate change are as huge as they are deadly. In fact, it has been argued that global warming, with its effect on global ecosystem is the single most important factor for earth’s apocalypse. There are both direct and indirect health implications. Each year, thousands of deaths are attributable to climate change and global warming through flash flooding, hurricanes, fire outbreaks (more than a dozen have been declared death in the currently raging
.wild fire in Australia). In addition to the instant and direct mortalities produced by these global warming driven events, there are other hardly quantifiable population health consequences. Regions that suffer flooding often contend with water borne diseases such as cholera and other diarrhoeal illnesses, typhoid fever, worm infestations and a number of other parasitic diseases. Agricultural activities and food production are destroyed and or hampered with predictable outcome on community nutrition. Without external assistance, the population, especially children get plunged into chronic undernutrition some of which come with lifetime complications and consequences. Flooding also comes with livestock destruction which further amplifies the risk of protein energy malnutrition. Electricity and power supply often get disrupted with truncation of the chains and cascades of support services including healthcare delivery. Bush fires are even worse in scale and scourge. Population affected die from physical burns, inhalational injuries, and survivors then contend with the scars of partial burns, increased incidence of respiratory disorders, and sometimes lung cancers from inhalation of toxic fumes. Fires equally disrupts the entire biosocial fabrics of any community. They damage crops and animals, including wild lives, destroy vegetations, and release ozone depleting greenhouse gases which accentuates even further the scourge of global warming. It is more like a self-perpetuating vicious cycle.   The damage wrought by climate change is non differentiating and non-sparing. The same could be said about all other havoc harbingers of climate change and global warming. It can be argued that climate change is or will be the single most important determinant of public health, global peace and stability. The good sides of climate change/global warming such reduced incidence of profound winter/cold temperature related disorders are readily eclipsed and overridden by its ugly and egregious side. Attaining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) will remain highly elusive if the current trajectory of climate change is not tackled with the commitment and seriousness it deserves. This is more so in sub-Saharan Africa already plagued by poor leadership, weak economy and high level of public ignorance.