Home Environmental Health & Climate Change Collateral Threats of COVID-19 and Climate Change

Collateral Threats of COVID-19 and Climate Change

Sundar  Lamichhane

The COVID-19 outbreak has become a global human tragedy, affecting millions of people all around the world. The pandemic has resulted in the largest number of shutdowns/lockdowns worldwide at the same time in history. As of May 2 2020, more than 3.4 million cases have been reported in 212 countries and territories, resulting in more than 239,622 deaths. The Covid-19 pandemic may turn out to be the tip of the iceberg of the climate crisis. The geo-physical and socio economic changes that the world is experiencing today will bring unprecedented challenges, including public health crises like this current pandemic.  Between 2030 and 2050, WHO estimates climate change will cause approximately 250, 000 additional deaths per year from malnutritionmalaria, diarrhea and heat stress.

COVID-19 and climate change both pose existential threats to the people all over the globe; both were foretold by scientists and researchers. While it may not affect large number of people that we have seen with current pandemic, climate change will apply mounting pressures on healthcare systems. In order for healthcare systems to meet these challenges, concerned authorities and people should learn lessons from the current pandemic. Although the Covid-19 pandemic itself might not be directly linked to environmental and climate change but there are, some parallels that can be drawn:

  • As seen on the current pandemic we require well-resourced, equitable health systems with a strong and supported health workforce to protect us from health security threats, including climate change in upcoming future. Global cooperation and advance preparedness is required to mitigate the burden on healthcare systems, reducing morbidity and mortality.
  • Ongoing pandemic shows that inequality is a major barrier in ensuring the health and wellbeing of people. Being specific social and economic inequality contributes in unequal access to healthcare systems. The consequences of COVID-19 seems to be greater for cities and people exposed to higher levels of pollution, which are most often people living in poorer areas. In case for health impacts of climate change, we have to face similar unexpected ramifications with one of its major causes, the burning of fossil fuels, eventually adding pollution to the airand impacting the health of poorer people living in poverty.
  • To be safe and protect themselves from the current pandemic people all around the world dramatically change their behavior which guided us to realize the potential of lifestyle change can bring sustainable change in society. This temporary shift of behaviors could lead to a long-term shift in old behaviors and assumptions, which can be one of the sustainable way to prevent ourselves from catastrophic consequences of climate change and upcoming calamities.
  • Climate change may shift the dimension of disease occurrence (where when and how severe). Looking at the current pandemic difficulty is seen in differentiating the symptoms with other similar flu in early days. Disease monitoring and prevention guidelines should be updated so that clinicians can best recognize novel contexts and symptoms of conditions and recommend preventive measures to their patients, given the changing patterns and mechanisms of disease development brought by climate change.

Consequences of COVID-19 pandemic can last on a time scale for months creating problem for everyone living now but the outcome of climate change can have consequential impacts for future generations. This pandemic had taught us valuable lessons to build more robust healthcare response plans at the state and community levels to support vulnerable population and all other people

Through close international collaboration and effective action the spread of COVID-19 is slowing down within their own borders. In the same way for the stabilization of climate all nations should reduce their emissions (CO2 and other harmful gases) Going it alone doesn’t work. This needs strong and effective coordination from all the countries around the globe.

The pandemic should serve as a wake-up call to realize and address the nature related risks caused by human activities. Strong policies should be formulated and implemented to address the various climate change issues.

References

Sundar  Lamichhane, BPH 7th semester student, SHAS Pokhara University, Pokhara Metropolitan City-30, Lekhnath, Kaski, Nepal, Email:lcsundar7@gmail.com, contact No: 9861182963


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