Climate change causing thousands of deaths, says UN report

11 December 2003 –

Climate change is affecting human health, causing 150,000 deaths worldwide in 2000, according to a United Nations report issued today, together with guidelines offering governments and organizations practical advice on how to respond to the problems.

The report, entitled Climate Change and Human Health – Risks and Responses, is a study of how climate change has an impact on human health, from influencing weather patterns and air pollution to causing water and food contamination.

It is co-authored by the World Health Organization (WHO), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), and was launched at the 9th Session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Milan.

The report says climate change was responsible for 150,000 deaths, 2.4 per cent of the world’s cases of diarrhoea and 2 per cent of all malaria cases in 2000.

Dr Kerstin Leitner, WHO’s Assistant Director-General for Sustainable Development and Healthy Environments, said “there is growing evidence that changes in the global climate will have profound effects on the health and well-being of citizens in countries throughout the world.”

The guidelines, launched by WHO’s European office with UNEP and WMO at the Milan meeting today, outline the impact of climate change and how governments and societies should respond.

WHO says they have been issued after the hottest decade in recorded history, the 1990s, and the heat wave in Europe this summer, when about 20,000 people are estimated to have died.

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