Continuing Medical Education

Human health impacts in a changing South African climate

C Y Wright, R M Garland, M Norval, C Vogel

Abstract


Climate change is projected to lead to warmer temperatures, especially in southern Africa, where the warming is predicted to be 2°C higher than the global increase. Given the high burden of disease already associated with environmental factors in this region, this temperature increase may lead to grave challenges for human health and quality of life. HIV/AIDS, poverty, food and water insecurity together with inequality and unemployment will further complicate the manner in which we will need to address the challenges of a changing climate. The health impacts are direct, such as increased temperatures leading to heat exhaustion, and indirect, such as likely increases in infectious diseases from contaminated water and changes in the distribution and/or magnitude of vector-borne diseases. The most effective measures for adapting to climate change to ensure healthy populations are to implement basic public health systems and services. These range from a continuous supply of clean water to adequate primary healthcare services. Support for required interventions is required not only from government, but also from healthcare professionals and communities. The need for disease surveillance, data capturing and more focused research is paramount.

 

Authors' affiliations

C Y Wright, Climate Studies, Modelling and Environmental Health Research Group, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Pretoria, South Africa, and Department of Geography, Geoinformatics and Meteorology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa

R M Garland, Climate Studies, Modelling and Environmental Health Research Group, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Pretoria, South Africa, and Climatology Research Group, Unit for Environmental Sciences and Management, North West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa

M Norval, Biomedical Sciences, University of Edinburgh Medical School, Edinburgh, UK

C Vogel, Centre for Environmental Management, Department of Geography, Geoinformatics and Meteorology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa

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Keywords

Human health impacts

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2014;104(8):579-582. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.8603

Article History

Date submitted: 2014-06-25
Date published: 2014-07-09

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