Health

Impacts

  • Capacity Challenges:  The health care system may be under increased pressure to deal with a growing number of health complaints caused directly or indirectly by climate change, such as injuries caused by extreme weather events as well as respiratory illnesses and diseases associated with warmer average temperatures.
  • Emergencies: Transportation routes to and from hospitals may be disrupted due to damages caused by extreme weather events or may no longer be viable access points in the future, when sea-level rise and other impacts on transport are accounted for.
  • Disease:  Warmer, wetter climate conditions can increase the incidence, distribution and severity of vector-borne diseases (e.g., Lyme disease), as well as rodent, water and food-borne diseases.
  • Respiratory Conditions:  Warmer temperatures can worsen air quality and exacerbate cardiovascular conditions, asthma and allergies.
  • Vulnerable Populations: The young, elderly and the poor are the most vulnerable to climate variability and extremes.

Adaptation

  • Re-examine Management Plans:  Ensure existing health care strategies adequately address possible capacity challenges arising from climate change.  Work with planners and emergency managers to ensure emergency access routes to hospitals are not disrupted by sea-level rise and other climate impacts.
  • Support Disease Prevention:  Establish new, or build on existing, public health care education programs to provide information on appropriate disease-preventative measures.  Improve our surveillance for the agents of and cases of vector borne disease in order to enhance prevention information and messages to the public and health care providers.
  • Stop the Spread of Disease:  Work with other local and national authorities to control the spread of disease-carrying insects.