The impacts of weather and climate on human health are profound, and decision-makers at all levels need access to information on the connections between climate and health, according to a new report. The atlas was prepared by two United Nations (UN) agencies: the World Health Organization and the World Meteorological Organization.
“Many diseases including malaria, dengue, meningitis — just a few examples — these are what we call climate-sensitive diseases, because such climate dimensions for rainfall, humidity and temperature would influence the epidemics, the outbreaks, either directly influencing the parasites or the mosquitoes that carry them,” said Dr. Margaret Chan, the director-general of the World Health Organization.
In the case of many infectious diseases, basic weather data can provide valuable information for health programs. For example, precipitation data can be used to provide an alert for epidemics of cholera or malaria. Temperature and humidity data is useful in mapping areas susceptible to meningitis or malaria transmission. Despite the potential for collaboration between health and climate services, the atlas reports that “these techniques are not currently used to their full potential,” due to lack of capacity to collect and process weather data into useful products, and to interpret and apply these products within the health services.
Download the atlas at http://www.wmo.int/ebooks/WHO/AtlasENweb.pdf.
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