Apr 2024

Climate change's impact on health in India


We have said that climate change affects everything, so many times, that the term has almost lost its meaning. Despite this, it becomes critical for us to persistently unpack and learn what the implications of our new reality are.

Climate change isn’t just about melting ice caps and rising sea levels, it has woven its way through every aspect of our existence from the food on our plates to the air we breathe, shaping our economies, health, culture, to even the landscapes of our dreams. As the world wrestles with its consequences, the impact it has on human health cannot be overstated. From the extremity of weather patterns and events to their unpredictability, to the increased levels of air and water pollution, and the scarcity of water and food, climate change poses a disproportionate amount of health risks to us.

The impacts of unpredictable climate and extreme events have manifested into severe physical health effects like heatstroke, dehydration, respiratory illnesses, water and vector-borne diseases among so many other effects that are yet to be studied and identified. Beyond the health impacts that can be traced on the physical body, living through such challenging times has left many people to develop mental health concerns like depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety.

But this is not all! The public health infrastructure of India was already grappling with inadequate resources and disproportionate demand. But climate change has further worsened the tremendous strain experienced by public health infrastructure. Time and again we have witnessed the vulnerability of public health systems during extreme events like Covid-19 and super-cyclone Amphan.

To address these complex and wide-ranging impacts of climate change on health, we need to adopt a multi-faceted approach, one that centers on the realities of vulnerable communities. We need to bring organizations working in this space, to collectively work towards identifying place-based solutions for these issues. The linkage between climate change and human health is undeniable and we need to take urgent action to safeguard the wellbeing of the present and future generations.

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