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From Asthma to Zika

Facing the health risks of climate change
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Climate change is associated with rising sea levels, flooding, and record high temperatures.

It is also linked to a rise in illnesses like heatstroke, asthma, and infectious diseases.

Academic health centers should take the lead in educating others about the health impact of climate change, say health experts in the Global Consortium on Climate and Health Education, which builds on a pledge by 115 medical, nursing, and public health schools around the world to add climate and health to their curricula.

"We must prepare clinicians for the individual and community health challenges that are emerging at an increased pace," says Emory School of Nursing Dean Linda McCauley, a consortium member. "The health impacts of climate change will touch all of us."

The science linking climate change to human health problems is abundant, says Linda Fried of Columbia's Mailman School of Public Health, where the consortium is based: "It's time to ensure that leaders across all sectors receive the tools necessary to prepare, and are able to translate science into action."

Already, she says, we are seeing longer and more severe heat waves, prolonged allergy seasons, changes in the spread and timing of infectious disease due to new vector patterns, and worsening air quality associated with human-induced climate change—and poor countries carry a disproportionate share of the burden.

Related Story:

Responding to climate change (Public Health Magazine, Fall 2017)

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