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Climate Change And Public Health: Irregular Temperature

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Discuss about the Climate Change and Public Health for Irregular Temperature.



Introduction: Climate change is becoming noticeable in India due to change in sea level, irregular precipitation and irregular temperature.  Most of the developing countries like India share less percentage in the global greenhouse gas emissions. However, it has major impact on health of their own population. Along with health of the people, this climate change also affected agriculture because majority of the population of India is agriculture based (Wiley and Gostin, 2009). Hence, climate change imposed heavy economic burden on India because Indian Government need to invest in addressing climate change issues and there is loss of productivity due to effect on agriculture. It can also lead to global health disparities. High risk areas for climate change include shortage of resources, environmental deprivation, high rates of infectious disease, scarcity of infrastructure, and overpopulation. Tropical regions are most susceptible for the host-pathogen interaction due to the climate change.

Alterations in the temperature and precipitation patterns can alter ecology of vector-borne diseases (Dhiman et al., 2008). Most susceptible populations for these vector-borne diseases include older people, children, rural populations, and the poor. India is one of the most diverse countries in the world. India has geographical and climatic diverse regions. India is having 1/6 of world’s population, 1/50 of world’s land and 1/25 of world’ water (Singh et al., 2010). Hence, identifying relation between climate change and health issues in India would be helpful in developing warning alarms and prevention strategies that could be applicable all over the world. 


Climate change India: It has been warned that glaciers are receding with rate of 10 – 15 metres per year. With this increasing rate there can be flooding in the river valleys. It can lead to reduced flow and less availability of water for drinking and irrigation (Keqin et al., 2007). In 20th century, 0.5? C temperature rises was observed in India. It has been predicted that, same can continue upto 2030. More importantly this rise in temperature can reach upto 2-4  C by the end of this century. Northern part of India would be more affected by this rise in the temperature and it can lead to augmented levels of tropospheric ozone pollution. End of the 20th century in India was observed as warmer than previous 300 years. This increase in temperature is continuing and in future also this temperature would increase (Saran and Jones, 2016).

It is evident from the studies that monsoon in the south part of India exhibited less rainfall in recent past. This lessened rainfall has been corelated with the increased monsoon winds over the western Arabian sea. It resulted in increased temperature in the southern part of the India.  Since, 1970s, there is upward trend in the tropical storms and hurricanes in India. These storm were with longer duration and greater intensity and these occurred mainly due to increase in the tropical sea surface temperature (Ghosh, 2016). In last 50 years it has been observed that warm extremes are associated with more heat waves and cold extremes were warmed more as compared to the warm extremes. Hence, there were less frost days. This resulted in the increased frequency of heavy precipitation. Between 1900 to 1999, there was consistent warming in upper 100 m tropical and eastern subtropical Indian ocean. This warming was less during 1900 to 1970, however between 1971 to 1999, there was significant increase in temperature. In few of these decades, increase in temperature was more than 0.2? C. Between, 1900 to 2005, there was increase in precipitation by 20 % per century. However, there was dramatic decrease in the precipitation from 1979 to 2005 (Dubash, 2012).

As India is geographically diverse country, in different states light variation in the temperate and rainfall were observed over the period of 1951-2010. In states like Punjab and Haryana there was decrease in temperature of 0.01?C per year, while in states like Himachal Pradesh there was increase in temperature by 0.06? C per year. Average increase in temperature in India between 1951-2010 was 0.01 C per year. It was observed that between 1951-2010, there was increase in rainfall in in state like West Bengal by +3.63 mm/year, while there was decrease in rainfall in states like Utter Pradesh and Andaman and Nicobar by 4.42 and 7.77 mm/year respectively. Average decrease in rainfall in India between 1951-2010 was 2.21 mm/year. Climate change varied in India based on the season. There was increase in temperature by 0.01C per year between 1951-210 in monsoon season. In winter season, this increase in temperature was by 0.02C per year from 1951-2010. Reverse trend was observed in terms of rainfall in summer and monsoon season in India in last 50 years. There was increase in rainfall in summer season by 0.33 mm/year from 1951-2010, while there was decrease in rainfall in monsoon season by 0.70 mm/year from 1951-2010. It has been predicted that, there would be slight decrease in the precipitation in the initial decades. However, by 2100, there would be overall increase in rain in India. By 2050, there would be reduced rainy days in a year, however, there would be increase in days with extreme rainfall on a single day (Malone and and Brenkert, 2008; O’Brien et al., 2004; Singh et al., 2011).

Adaptation and mitigation strategies and policies: India implemented National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) for mitigation and adaptation of climate change. NAPCC runs several steps simultaneously to mitigate climate change and advance India’s development. It includes several missions like National Solar Mission, National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency, National Mission on Sustainable Habitat, National Water Mission, National Mission for Sustaining The Himalayan Ecosystem, Green India Mission and National and National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture. NAPCC has objective to promote production and utilization of solar energy for power generation. Hence, it can be competition for the fossil based energy options. National solar mission include activities like launch of solar research centre, collaborative work with international organisations for technology development and transfer, augmentation in the domestic solar production capacity and augmentation in Government funding (Pandve, 2008).


In National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency, NAPPC makes mandatory for large industries to use energy in controlled quantity with documentation of data for the utilisation of energy. Government is offering trade – savings certificates to the industries and providing finance to the industries to establish public-private partnerships to reduce utilization of energy. In National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency, NAPCC recommends energy efficiency in urban areas by establishing Energy Conservation Building Code and promoting automotive fuel economy standards, use of energy efficiency vehicles and public transportation. It includes water management and recycling mainly through rain water harvesting. Importance has been given to the research and development of integrated Gasification Combined Cycle IGCC and supercritical technologies. According to Electricity Act 2003 and the National Tariff Policy 2006, Government should purchase specific amount of electricity from grid-based power from renewable sources. According to Energy Conservation Act 2001, should take energy audits and energy labelling programmes on regular basis. In National Water Mission, NAPCC aim to improve use of water by 20 % and to work upon water scarcity (Pandve, 2009). National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem incorporate measures to be taken to stop melting of the Himalayan glaciers. Hence, biodiversity in the Himalayan region can be protected. Green India Mission aims to re-establish 6 million hectares of degraded forests and to expand forest area from 23 to 33 %.

National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture to produce climate resistant crops and agricultural practices and provision of weather insurance. National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change include improvement in the information about climate science, its impacts and challenges. It also includes plans to tackle these challenges through Climate Science Research Fund. NAPCC also incorporates provision of health care services and assessment of disease burden due to climate change. Prime Minister's Council on Climate Change monitor all the activities of NAPCC on regular basis (Pandve, 2007). 


Malaria: Alterations in the temperatures and precipitation can lead to change in ecology of vector-borne disease like malaria. Stagnant water can aid favourable place for breeding place for mosquitoes. Temperature alterations, air pollution, waterborne diseases are mainly responsible for malaria. Malaria parasite and mosquito both are susceptible to the alteration in temperature. At places with less temperature, even with small increase in temperature can increase rate of malaria transmission due to augmented number of mosquitos (O’Neill and Ebi, 2009). Deforestation and irrigation act as open places for the multiplication of malaria vectors and increase its transmission. This multifactorial transmission of malaria is the main hindrance for predicting exact cases of malaria.

Variability of rainfall in the different regions of India is responsible for approximately 45 % variability in the malaria transmission.  High density population is also one of the prominent reasons for epidemic of malaria in India (Dhiman et al., 2010). Approximately 2 million cases of malaria are there in India. Prevalence of infectious disease varies according to the regions. According to WHO estimates, every year approximately 15000 people die due to malaria in India. However, in another study, it was estimated that approximately 200000 deaths occur due malaria before 70 years of age and approximately 55000 deaths occur as child (Dhingra et al., 2010). Accurate estimation of death in India is difficult because malaria is mistaken for life-threatening fever in India. Moreover, appropriate medical attention at the time of death is not evident in rural areas. Hence, in developing countries like India it would be difficult to estimate hospital-based deaths due to malaria because of climate change. Approximately 65 % cases of malaria are evident in states like Orissa, Jharkhand, Madya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, and the North East. Sub-Saharan Africa region is considered as most prevalent region malaria. However, it is evident that Orissa is more prevalent than Sub-Saharan Africa (Kumar et al., 2007; Narain, 2007).

Cases of disability-adjusted life years are more due to vector-borne disease. Out of these, approximately half of the cases are due to malaria (Dash, 2008). Drug resistant strains of malaria parasites are mainly responsible for more prevalence of malaria in India. Plasmodium falciparum is the most virulent form of parasite in India. However, after 1973 chloroquine became resistant to P. falciparum. Resistance to insecticides also responsible for the epidemic of malaria. Malaria is more epidemic in the semiarid region of India. However, due to variability in rainfall in this region exhibited interannual variability of malaria. Variability in rainfall along with increase in temperature in the 20th century is mainly responsible for increase in number of malaria parasites (Laneri et al., 2010).

Positive correlation between monthly increase in malaria parasites and increase temperature, precipitation and humidity has been established. Consequence of long term climate change with number of malaria parasites is yet to establish. Temperature at the high altitude plays significant role in preventing epidemic of malaria at high altitude (Pascual et al., 2009). However, prediction of future climate change at high altitude for epidemic of malaria is not evident. Scarcity of data is evident for the influence of climate change on malaria epidemic in the urban areas. It is important to address this issue because there is rapid expansion of population in urban area along with water shortage and increasing poverty (Das et al., 2010).

Recommendations: Environmental monitoring and surveillance: Environment monitoring and surveillance is necessary in India. High quality research should be carried out to establish correlation between climate change and malaria. This research should give data about current conditions and future predictions. This data should give clear picture about total morbidity and mortality numbers for malaria. Investigation of extreme climate conditions and its risk indicators like mosquito abundance or parasite load is required. Health centres should implement health programmes for collection of such data. Infrastructure should be built to carry out research on effect of climate change on malaria. As India is diverse country, there should be network of repositories for the documentation of meteorological, air pollution, and health data.   


Geospatial technology: Geographic information systems and spatial analysis are necessary for carrying out vulnerability assessment, assessment of climate exposure, initiating research and distributing findings to the public and decision makers. Air pollution and heat exposure can be detected by remote sensing and environmental monitoring. Census data comprising of social data and geographic data comprising of exposure data should be aligned to get sensitivity and adaptive capacity at both individual and society levels. Spatial information infrastructure is useful in integrating data for human-environment interactions from varied sources. Social and environmental data can be used to assess vulnerability of malaria by spatial and temporal techniques. Risk maps can be incorporated to identify social and ecological risk factors for malaria (Ageep et al., 2010). It can also be useful to illustrate existing spatial heterogenicity. This can be useful for the forecasting prevalence, planning resource distribution and implementing management programmes for malaria (Jerrett et al., 2010).

Human and technical capacity: For the prevention of malaria in the diverse countries like India, human and technical capacity should be improved. Improvement in the human and technical capacity can be helpful in the improving surveillance methods and analytical techniques. Public education programmes should be implemented to improve public awareness about climate change. Awareness of potential health impacts of climate should be improved to improve lifestyle, behaviour and selectivity of people to improve and protect health. Health promotion should be done using low-tech flyers, advertisements, web-based and mobile based alerts. All these strategies should be implemented in India in a region and city specific manner because of great variability in geographical aspects in India. 

Conclusion: In India, climate change is mainly observed in the form of change in sea level, precipitation level and rise in temperature. Hence, India is experiencing global warming issue and it can exaggerate in the future.  It is evident that there is solid association between climate change and human health. In India, climate change has major impact on human health because due to great variability in climate based on geographical area, socioeconomic variability and time of the year. There is no evidence available for the extrapolation of results of one region to another region. Hence, it is mandatory to maintain separate and comprehensive data for climate change and related effects on human health. Hence, it is need of hour to conduct studies specific to climate and populations in India. NAPCC was developed to improve India’s ecological sustainability for development. India is also contributing to international discussions for climate change. Due to complexity of India, it has great opportunity to direct the World for sustainable development and climate change adaptation. Policy makers and scientist in the relevant field from all over the world should come together to address complex issues of climate change and health in India. Innovative and multidisciplinary research should be carried out by implementing environmental epidemiologic methods to address health risks related to climate change. It requires integrated work from different stakeholders like scientists, Government and communities. Approval and implementation of such studies would be helpful in identifying required tools and infrastructure to answers questions and to obtain solutions.



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