Climate change and rising global temperatures are likely to bring changes in weather patterns, greater frequency of extreme weather such as heatwaves and rising sea levels.
What are the likely health impacts in the UK?
There are a range of direct and indirect health consequences for the UK as a result of climate change.
- Increased temperatures and heatwaves
- Increased frequency and severity of flooding and storms
- Changing patterns of infectious diseases
- Reduced food safety
- Increased exposure to ultraviolet radiation
- Reduced air quality and increased aeroallergens
Doctors can play an important part in thinking about strategies to adapt to these changes.
How how can doctors help adapt to climate change?
Explain the impact of climate change in your area - provide relevant information on the health impacts of climate change.
Support patients to adapt to climate change - what information can you provide to your patients to help them manage any health risks? Have you thought about using a local campaign to raise awareness of the health impacts of climate change in your area?
Prepare your local healthcare system - do you know the person responsible in your organisation for responding to extreme weather events? Find out what current plans are in place and get involved.
Monitor areas where health impacts are most likely - are health impacts associated with climate change already appearing? Are such impacts being recorded and evaluated? How can you feed into this process? If not, how could you go about setting up appropriate surveillance measures? Have you considered what resource implications there may be in your area?
Raise awareness of the links between climate change and adverse natural events - heatwaves, droughts and floods are expected to increase in frequency and severity with climate change. Raise awareness with patients, colleagues and policy-makers.
Learn from adaptation strategies in other countries - Do you have contact with health professionals in other countries who could provide information and evaluation on the response of their health systems?