Climate change could reverse India’s health progress

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on November 14, 2019

Climate change is threatening to reverse the progress made by India on tackling maternal and child health issues as well as on containing mosquito-related illnesses such as dengue and malaria, latest research published in medical journal Lancet has warned.

The paper warns that by 2050, carbon dioxide concentrations are projected to reach levels which will lead to zinc and protein deficiencies in an additional 5 crore and 3.8 crore people respectively in India by 2050.

Forty crore women of childbearing age and one crore children under five at greater risk of iron deficiency, it states.

“With its huge population and high rates of healthcare inequality, poverty, and malnutrition, few countries are likely to suffer from the health effects of climate change as much as India. Diarrhoeal infections, a major cause of child mortality, will spread into new areas, whilst deadly heatwaves, similar to one in 2015 that killed thousands of people in India, could soon become the norm,” says co-author Poornima Prabhakaran from the Public Health Foundation of India. The tropical highlands are becoming more suitable for development of the parasite and for disease transmission.

Similarly, climate change is altering spatial and seasonal patterns of malaria, threatening progress made by India to date in controlling the disease.

It further said, “The Himalayan states of Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura have seen 15 to 20 fold increases in numbers of cases since 2013.

Similar trends have been observed in southern states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala.”

Elaborating further on changing patterns of spread of the disease, the paper warns that even in the 2050s, Malaria is likely to persist in Odisha, West Bengal and southern parts of Assam, bordering north of West Bengal.

Published on November 14, 2019

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