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Published: 2009-11-13

Global health experts challenge Climate Conference in Copenhagen

NEWS Leading scientists at the Umeå Centre for Global Health Research urge delegates at the forthcoming UNFCCC Climate Conference in Copenhagen to address health impacts of climate change.

The Umeå Centre for Global Health Research today announced the publication of “Climate Change and Public Health: linking science and policy”, a cluster of articles published in the international peer-reviewed Open Access journal Global Health Action, with a foreword by Maria Neira of the World Health Organization.

The 23 articles, authored by leading experts worldwide, focus on two groups of climate-exacerbated adverse health effects: the very direct consequences of heat on human health, including effects upon productivity, and the indirect effects of climate change upon the spread of infectious diseases. Apart from providing global evidence of impacts and offering new tools – such as the use of remote sensing to monitor health risks from space – the authors implore those gathering in Copenhagen next month to give centre stage to the impacts of climate change upon global health. They argue that these issues are given far too little attention in the mitigation debate, leading, among other things, to an underestimation of the full economic costs of climate change on human welfare.

What appear on the surface to be rather diverse issues in geographically distinct areas– sugar cane workers’ exposure to extreme heat in Costa Rica, to Rift Valley Fever in Senegal, increased hospitalisation in Sweden during warm summers, and climate change and health in the Arctic – actually reveal common scientific and policy challenges, say health researchers Birgitta Evengård and Rainer Sauerborn. Based on these commonalities, the editors call upon delegates gathering at the UNFCCC Climate Conference in Copenhagen in December to fill research gaps, develop and monitor adaptation strategies, and above all to “use health as a driver for global climate polices”. As argued by the Global Health Action authors, “The concern of citizens about their own and their children’s health is arguably the most powerful motivator to accept changes in lifestyle or to accept the inconvenience and costs involved with climate policies.”

For more information or to arrange an interview with the guest editors or journal contributors, contact:

Peter Byass, Professor of Global Health, UCGHR,
phone +46 76 787 30 07, e-mail peter.byass@epiph.umu.se

Birgitta Evengård, Professor, Department of Clinical Microbiology,
phone + 46 70 234 98 20, e-mail birgitta.evengard@climi.umu.se

Maria Nilsson, Science Coordinator, Climate Change and Health, UCGHR,
phone +46 70 349 71 74, e-mail maria.nilsson@epiph.umu.se

For the Global Health Action table of contents or to access full-text articles, visit