COP 28 recently wrapped up in Dubai. The meeting has brought some great insights into different aspects, including climate change, health, and agriculture. In this State of the Economy podcast, Dr Srinath Reddy, cardiologist and founder and former president Public Health Foundation of India, talks to Jyothi Datta on the unprecedented inclusion of health in the climate change agenda. 

The podcast emphasised on the escalating impact of climate change on human health. Not only are extreme weather events becoming more frequent, but there’s also a heightened vulnerability to infectious and non-infectious diseases. Dr. Reddy stressed the urgent need to place health at the core of climate change discussions. 

Dr. Reddy stated that there are specific health challenges posed by climate change, including the immediate impacts of excessive heat, vector-borne diseases, and waterborne diseases. He highlighted the importance of building climate-smart and resilient health systems to mitigate these challenges effectively. 

The discussion extended to the broader implications on mental health and non-communicable diseases. The rise in air pollution, exacerbated by climate change, was identified as a significant contributor to cardiovascular diseases, respiratory issues, and even cancers. 

A key recommendation from Dr. Reddy was the necessity to strengthen primary healthcare services, promoting early detection and disease prevention. He emphasised the role of technology, such as telehealth services, in making healthcare more accessible and reducing the carbon footprint associated with extensive commuting to large hospitals. 

The conversation seamlessly transitioned to the critical link between climate change and agriculture, shedding light on the impact on crop quantity and quality. Dr. Reddy underscored the need for climate-resilient crops and sustainable agricultural practices to address the impending challenges of food scarcity and nutrient deficiencies. 

Furthermore, the discussion expanded to the often-overlooked connections between climate change, deforestation, and the increased risk of zoonotic diseases. The disruption of habitats and migration patterns could lead to the transmission of infections between animals and humans, potentially triggering epidemics. 

In addressing these challenges, Dr. Reddy advocated for a holistic approach that involves reprioritising agricultural production, moving away from water-intensive and environmentally harmful crops. The need for responsible land use and reduced deforestation emerged as critical components of climate-smart food and health systems. Dr. Reddy emphasised on the proactive role that individuals, policymakers, and healthcare providers can play in building a sustainable and resilient future.  

(Host: Jyothi Datta, Producer: Anjana PV

About the State of the Economy podcast 

India’s economy has been hailed as a bright spot amid the general gloom that seems to have enveloped the rest of the world. But several sectors continue to stutter even as others seem set to fire on all cylinders. To help you make sense of the bundle of contradictions that the country is, businessline brings you podcasts with experts ranging from finance and marketing to technology and start-ups