Climate change will have an overwhelmingly negative impact on health with possibly one billion more people at risk from dengue fever within 80 years, an expert said Tuesday.
While there would be some positive effects, "the balance of health effects is on the negative side," Alistair Woodward, a professor at the University of Auckland, told a regional meeting of the World Health Organisation.Woodward was a lead writer for the fourth assessment report of the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change.
Water supplies would be an increasingly serious concern, with the percentage of the world's land area suffering drought increasing perhaps tenfold by the end of the century.
Small Pacific island states would be especially vulnerable to rising sea levels and changes in rainfall patterns.
Woodward said the health sector must be at the forefront on climate change.
He called for studies on water management in low-lying Pacific islands, community-based disaster preparedness, and on efforts to reduce the impact of rural drought.
"The most difficult change of all is a change of will. We should not be daunted by the size of the task," Woodward said.
WHO director general Margaret Chan, in a speech Monday afternoon, said that even if greenhouse gas emissions were to stop immediately the changes already being seen would go on throughout this century."Climate changes will affect, in profoundly adverse ways, some of the most fundamental determinants of health: food, air, water,"