Climate change will potentially increase the risk for vector-borne diseases like malaria and dengue especially in the Himalayan regions, claims experts. They also emphasized on the urgent need for strengthening the health infrastructure in India.
Speaking at a conference on "Climate change and health risks" organized by the French Embassy in partnership with the Council on Energy, Environment and Water in the lead-up to the Paris Climate Change Conference (COP21), Ramesh Dhiman, scientist at the National Institute of Malaria Research, said the Himalayan region will be the worst affected by such diseases.
"Places like Jammu and Kashmir and Uttarakhand will have the problem of transmission (of vector-borne diseases) by 2032 and the Himalayan region will be the most hit as the rise in temperature will make breeding of mosquitoes easy at higher regions," said Dhiman.
There was a need to "strengthen" the country's health infrastructure and reach out to people living in far flung areas of the country. "We need dedicated health workers who will have to visit each and every corner of the country as surveillance is the crux of the issue," said Dhiman.
Adding to the menace would be the hazards of heat waves which in 2015 killed over 2,000 people in India alone, said Dileep Mavalankar, Director of Gandhinagar-based Indian Institute of Public Health. Noting that "pursuit of high growth" will ultimately lead to death, B.N. Satpathy, consultant, NITI Ayog said the government had laid down a low carbon energy growth path.
"The GDP may not be as high as expected but the carbon emissions will be low," said Satpathy, adding that climate change affects the social eco-system and that nine coastal states in India were the most vulnerable to effects of climate change.
According to WHO, climate change is expected to cause approximately 250,000 additional deaths between 2030 and 2050; 38,000 due to heat exposure in elderly people, 48,000 due to diarrhea, 6,000 due to malaria and 95,000 due to childhood nutrition problems.