Climate change is causing widespread suffering and mortality due to both direct effects (e.g. heat, flooding) and indirect effects (e.g. via air pollution, sanitation, food quantity/quality, and infectious disease). We need to develop mitigation and adaptation strategies now to minimize suffering. This depends on capitalizing on everything available to tackle this overwhelming crisis. No person should be left behind.
Monash University has a breadth of expertise in both researchers and educators focused on climate related, human health issues. Through the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, we are developing new research collaborations to accelerate Health and Climate research and education initiatives for impact in our local and global community.
Professor Karin Leder, Head of the Infectious Diseases Epidemiology Unit in the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine explains that extreme weather events in 2022 have included record-breaking heat waves such as were seen in India and Pakistan and extreme flooding events affecting Pakistan, Nigeria, Venezuela, Thailand, Cambodia and elsewhere. Closer to home, severe floods have occurred recurred in 2022 in eastern parts of Australia (February/March, July and October), resulting in at least two dozen deaths predominantly from drowning and accidents.
Flooding also predisposes us to a range of other health impacts, including an increase in infectious disease risks. Early on, there are risks of gastrointestinal illness if poorly refrigerated or contaminated foods are eaten or contaminated water is consumed. Contact with contaminated floodwaters can also lead to skin and wound infections. Disease risks associated with animal sources are also increased, such as leptospirosis. Exposure to mould inhalation can also lead to respiratory symptoms.
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