Climate change and human health: Indian context
A recent Indian Network of Climate Change Assessment (INCCA) report projected the Himalayan region, the north-eastern region, the western ghats and coastal regions to be most vulnerable to climate change by 2030. Rainfall is likely to reduce in each area, with the exception of the Himalayas, and cyclones will become less frequent but more severe. Sea level rises of around 1.3mm per year have been projected, but there is no consensus on whether temperatures may rise or fall.
The article explains the variety of potential health impacts of climate change in India:
- with deaths attributed to heatwaves already an issue (1658 cases in 1998), mortality in India is expected to rise along with associated eye and skin disease;
- warmer air concentrates pollutants and aeroallergens, which when combined with increasing urban pollution is likely to increase cardiovascular and respiratory diseases;
- increased mortality − both direct and indirect (loss of food security, damage to health and infrastructure, diseases) − as a result of increased frequency of climate-related disasters;
- a projected two to three month extension of the transmission window for mosquito-borne diseases in several states;
- potential increase of diarrhoeal disease (especially through flood contaminated water), dengue and Japanese encephalitis, although more research is needed in this regard;
- sea level rise will inundate costal areas, disproportionately affecting the poor in terms of mortality, stress and loss of infrastructure.