Regional Environmental Change

Climate change and human health in Latin America: drivers, effects, and policies

- By:

Courtesy of Regional Environmental Change

Many people would be increasingly affected by living under critical conditions in Latin America if, as expected, global warming aggravates disease and pest transmission processes. Heat waves and air pollution would increase heat-related diseases and illness episodes in large cities. Fire smoke has been associated with irritation of the throat, lung and eyes, and respiratory problems. Climate extreme increases associated with climate change would cause physical damage, population displacement, and adverse effects on food production, freshwater availability and quality. It would also increase the risks of infectious and vector-borne diseases. Climate change impacts the geographical range, seasonality, and the incidence rate of vector-borne diseases, such as malaria. Climate-related ecological changes may expand cholera transmission, particularly among populations in low-laying tropical coastal areas. El Niño conditions may affect the incidence of infectious diseases, such as malaria. Ocean warming would increase temperature-sensitive toxins produced by phytoplankton, which could cause more frequent contamination of seafood. A clearer understanding on the current role of climate change in disease patterns will be able to improve forecasts of potential future impacts of projected climate change and support action to reduce such impacts.

Keywords: Latin America - Climate - Human health

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