Washington, DC (July 3, 2007)- Health officials from more than a dozen countries from the Asia-Pacific region met in Malaysia to outline health problems they are experiencing related to climate change. They discussed ways to work together to limit the impact in a region expected to be hit hard by flooding, drought, heat waves, and mosquito- and waterborne diseases.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that climate change has already directly or indirectly killed more than 1 million people globally since 2000. More than half of those deaths have occurred in the Asia-Pacific, the world’s most populous region. “We’re not going to have a magic bullet to fix climate change in the next 50 years. We need to motivate an awful lot of people to change their behavior in a lot of different ways,” said Kristie Ebi of WHO’s Global Environmental Change unit and a lead author of the health chapter in a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Scientists and health officials predict that climate change will take an increasingly heavy toll on the region if no action is taken. Dr. Shigeru Omi, head of the WHO’s Western Pacific region, said that tackling current pressing diseases, and investing more in public health systems overall, will help prepare countries for the future effects of global warming while saving money in the long run. “The economic impact will be seen eventually…. I think it will pay off if we take action now,” Omi said.
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