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Healthier Planet, Healthier People

Updated: Jul 20, 2023

By Fithriyyah, Medical Doctor, Youth Climate Activist and YECAP Fellow from Indonesia


The discussions about climate change and human well-being boil down to what we can do to prevent any further destruction for the sake of the existence of humankind. The environment and health are intertwined with each other, but we sometimes overlook and misinterpret climate-related diseases as just diseases. In fact, around one-fourth of the global burden of disease could be prevented if we perpetuated a healthier environment.


According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 250,000 deaths per year are expected to happen between 2030 and 2050 due to malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea, and heat stress. Meanwhile, the Sixth Assessment report by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that there is a greater than 50% probability that global warming will reach or exceed 1.5°C in the near future, which means the incidence of climate-related diseases will be high in parallel with the rising temperature.

Figure 1. An overview of climate-sensitive health risks, their exposure pathways and vulnerability factors.
Figure 1. An overview of climate-sensitive health risks, their exposure pathways and vulnerability factors.

The effects of climate change on human health are enormous, whether we like it or not, it affects both the mental and physical state. Climate incidents are myriad and are harming human health in any possible way. For example, an extremely hot temperature leads to a life-threatening condition such as heat stroke. In addition, it is likely to increase respiratory problems because a high temperature can escalate the development process of harmful air pollutants.


Moreover, the rise of sea level is implicated in frequent floods, especially in the coastal area, as well as inundated low-lying wetlands and dry lands. This situation can harm human health by the risk of leptospirosis, a bacterial disease, which can be transmitted by contact with water that has been contaminated by urine or body fluids of infected animals.


On a larger scale, unfavorable climate situations affect agricultural activities, making them less productive, less nutritional, and less adaptive. It is predicted that by 2050 the global population will increase around one-quarter of today’s global population, hence, the food demand will be 56% greater than it was in 2010. If the agricultural sector keeps deteriorating, it is no doubt that most of the population will have inadequate nutrition intake, healthy food, and zero hunger will be out of reach.

Figure 2. The interactions between climate change, food security, nutrition, and human health.
Figure 2. The interactions between climate change, food security, nutrition, and human health.

The above-mentioned examples show the crucial part where we are often not aware of environmental changes impacting us. It is also inevitable to say that facing the environmental crisis nowadays should be on a massive and multisectoral approach due to the critical climate condition; technology, economics, education, policy, and so on. Moreover, tackling climate change mainly means improving people’s health, and the efforts to overcome the challenges should be done collectively.


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