Topic: GS3 – climate change
As India prepares for the 28th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28), there is a critical need to assess the impact of climate change on the country’s health. India’s vulnerable health systems exacerbate the population’s susceptibility to climate-related health risks.
Direct Health Impacts:
Climate change directly contributes to increased sickness and mortality rates. With the alarming rise in global temperatures, parts of India face the threat of becoming uninhabitable, a stark deviation from the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting temperature increases to 1.5°C.
The year 2023 witnessed record-breaking temperatures and heatwaves, foreshadowing an intensification of climate emergencies such as extreme heat, cyclones, and floods.
Double Burden of Morbidity:
India grapples with a dual health burden from both communicable and non-communicable diseases, further compounded by climate change. The changing climate facilitates the growth and altered seasonality of disease vectors, potentially introducing new health risks.
Non-communicable diseases, often overlooked, face exacerbation due to factors like increased air pollution, heat-induced kidney injuries, and mental health issues heightened by climate-induced stress.
India’s rapid and unplanned urbanization exacerbates the impact of climate change, particularly in urban areas experiencing the urban heat island effect. Lack of green spaces, air pollution, and stress from urban living compound health challenges. The weak urban primary health system is strained by climate-related health issues.
Addressing the health impact of climate change requires comprehensive mitigation efforts at the global, regional, and local levels. A crucial starting point is understanding the direct and indirect pathways through which climate change affects health.
Socio-economic conditions play a significant role, necessitating social support systems and adapted health services. However, more significant benefits arise from upstream interventions, including improved urban planning, increased green cover, water conservation, and public health initiatives.
Call to Action:
Efforts to combat climate change and its health implications must involve coordinated action at all levels—global, regional, and local. Researchers play a vital role in providing policy options, and governments need to commit to implementing evidence-based strategies.
Meaningful change requires the convergence of problem recognition, policy formulation, and political decision-making.
Addressing climate change’s impact on health in India requires a multifaceted approach that integrates scientific understanding, policy implementation, and political commitment. As COP28 approaches, there is an urgent need for coordinated efforts to mitigate the health risks posed by climate change in the country.
Question: Discuss the interplay between climate change and public health in India. Suggest policy measures to mitigate the health risks associated with climate change, emphasizing the role of global, regional, and local interventions.