Climate change may lead to higher rates of certain infectious and respiratory diseases as also more injuries from storms and bushfires, a report by Australian doctors warned Sunday.
The Doctors for the Environment Australia report found that over the next decade, the health of children and the elderly would be most at risk from rising temperatures.
"In 2020, it is likely that Australian doctors and other health professionals will be seeing patients with a diverse range of climate change-related illnesses," the group, which aims to raise awareness about the health impacts of global warming, said in its report.
"These include heat stress, other heat-related illness events (affecting the heart, blood vessels and lungs), trauma from extreme weather events, and more allergic diseases."
Meanwhile, greater air pollution would increase respiratory illnesses and higher temperatures could raise the risk of some infectious diseases such as gastroenteritis and mosquito-borne ailments such as Dengue Fever.
Forecasters predict Australia will experience more extreme weather events, such as droughts, fires, floods and storms due to global warming.
And while warming in Australia will be in line with global projections, it will be starting from a hotter base.
"Climate change is already a reality in our waiting rooms and surgeries -- and is set to become a key challenge for our health system over the coming decade," the report's co-author Dr. Graeme Horton said.
"Clearly, climate change will place our health system under increasing stress -- and as always the elderly, children and the vulnerable will be hardest hit."
Horton said the biggest impact would be felt in rural and remote areas and indigenous communities because people there will face more climatic extremes and problems with food and freshwater supplies.
The report, which was endorsed by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, was released ahead of World Health Day on April 7 which this year will focus on the need to protect health from the adverse effects of climate change.
It noted that climate change already posed a threat.
"It is not only an economic issue; it is a threat to our life support systems," it said.
"In the coming decades doctors who are interested in the long term health of their patients and communities will have a central role in the mitigation of climate change and in preparing for and managing its adverse health impacts."