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Children in India face greater health burden with climate change, Lancet report says



With rising temperatures changing the climate scenario, Indian-born children will be particularly vulnerable to a greater health burden from malnutrition, air pollution and deadly heat waves, a major report published in the Lancet magazine said on Thursday.

The Lancet count on health and climate change is a comprehensive annual progress analysis of 41 key indicators. The annual project is a collaboration between 120 experts from 35 institutions, including the World Health Organization and the World Bank.

The authors note that climate change is already harming the health of children around the world and should shape the well-being of a generation, unless the world meets the Paris Agreement's goal of limiting warming below 2 degrees Celsius.

Pernima Prabaharan, co-author of the report, noted that few countries are likely to suffer the health effects of climate change as much as India, with its huge population and high rates of health inequality, poverty and malnutrition.

"While the report highlights the effects of climate change on people of all age groups, here's what we are trying to do is bring back the focus on children because there is a sense of urgency on this issue," says Delu Delhi, a professor. The Public Health Foundation of India told PTI.

"For every child born today, the future will be decided by climate change. Unless we take some serious action now, by the time they reach their second, third or fourth decade of life, things will be different because they will live in a world that is at least 4 degrees warmer, "she said. .

In India, she noted, diarrheal infections, the leading cause of child mortality, will spread to new areas, while deadly heat waves, similar to 2015, which killed thousands of people in the country could soon become the norm .

A woman poses for a photo with her malnourished child in the village of Paltupur, Uttar Pradesh, India. (Photographer: Sanjit Das / Bloomberg)

A woman poses for a photo with her malnourished child in the village of Paltupur, Uttar Pradesh, India. (Photographer: Sanjit Das / Bloomberg)

While the government has launched many initiatives and programs to address various diseases and risk factors over the past two decades, this report shows that the public health benefits achieved in the past 50 years could soon be restored by a changing climate.

The energy landscape will have to change drastically, and soon the world will meet its UN climate goals and protect the health of the next generation, the report warns.

Nothing less than a 7.4 percent reduction in CO2 fossil emissions annually from 2019 to 2050 will not limit global warming to the ambitious 1.5 Celsius target, it said. "Children are particularly vulnerable to the health risks of climate change. Their bodies and immune systems are still in development, leaving them more susceptible to disease, pollution and environmental pollutants, "Prabaharan explained.

Nick Watts, executive director of the Lancet Counting, added: "Early childhood injury is permanent and widespread, with life-long health consequences."

"Without urgent action by all countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the benefits of well-being and life expectancy will be compromised, and climate change will come to define the health of a whole generation," Watts said in a statement.

The report notes that the harvest will decrease with rising temperatures, threatening food safety and raising food prices. Infants and young children are one of the worst affected by malnutrition and related health problems such as stunted growth, weak immune systems and long-term developmental problems, the authors of the report said.

Children will also be particularly susceptible to infectious diseases, such as dengue, which will increase temperatures and change rainfall patterns. Nine of the 10 "hospitable years" of dengue transmission have occurred since 2000. Almost half of the world's population is now in danger.

The report points out that through adolescence and adulthood, young people are more likely to suffer the most damage because their lungs are still developing, making them prone to worsening asthma and increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

As global CO2 emissions from fossil fuels continue to rise (up 2.6 percent from 2016-2018), coal energy supply is increasing (up 1.7 percent from 2016-2018), reversing the previous trend. reduction, while premature deaths related to PM2.5 fatty acids remain stagnant at 2.9 million worldwide.

A doctor examines the child's eyes in Palgar, India. (Photographer: Scott Eels / Bloomberg News)

A doctor examines the child's eyes in Palgar, India. (Photographer: Scott Eels / Bloomberg News)

Later in life, a child born today will face an increased risk of severe flooding, prolonged droughts and fires. In 152 of the 196 countries, more and more people have been exposed to fires from 2001-2004 with financial casualties per person 48 times greater than the floods.

In India alone, there was an increase of over 21 million exposures, and China about 17 million, resulting in direct deaths and respiratory illnesses, as well as loss of homes, the report said.

Despite the scope of the challenge, the report offers some reason for cautious optimism – renewables growth represents 45% of total electricity generation growth in 2018, 27% of wind and solar energy.

"To dramatically reduce emissions by 2050 and meet more sustainable development goals, India must move away from coal and towards renewable energy. It will also need to improve public transport, increase the use of cleaner fuels and improve waste management and agricultural production practices, ‚ÄĚPrabaharan said.


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