Author`s name Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey

Environment: Pressing challenges identified on Net resource

Two UN agencies have combined forces to provide a Net resource which shows the links between health risks and climate/environmental events. The Atlas of Health and Climate provides maps, tables and graphs indicating the current pressing challenges in these areas.

The Atlas of Health and Climate is a joint project by the WHO - World Health Organization and the WMO - World Meteorological Organization, published this Monday. The objective of the project is to identify and highlight the most pressing challenges as they emerge. The resource links environmental events and their effects on health.

"Droughts, floods and cyclones affect the health of millions of people each year. Climate variability and extreme conditions such as floods can also trigger epidemics of diseases such as diarrhoea, malaria, dengue and meningitis, which cause death and suffering for many millions more. The Atlas gives practical examples of how the use of weather and climate information can protect public health" explains the UNO.

From now on, greater focus will be given to climate resources protecting public health and the key word in the new resource is information, providing prevention and preparedness and in turn delivering risk management and reduction. Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization, states "Climate has a profound impact on the lives, and survival, of people. Climate services can have a profound impact on improving these lives, also through better health outcomes."

Only by strengthening the ties between the technological resources available will it be possible to deliver up-dated information on weather and climate challenges and events, integrating this information into public health management systems at all levels: local, national and international.

The Net resource provides maps, tables and graphs, explaining the links between climate and public health. Examples given are the incidence of Dengue, Malaria, Meningitis and Cholera and climate change and control of data can help authorities prevent and fight such epidemics.

Technological information systems have greatly reduced human casualties over the years, an example given being that of Bangladesh where in 1970 500,000 people died because of a storm, and in 2007 the number was under 3,000.

"The Atlas is being released at an Extraordinary Session of the World Meteorological Congress, being held in Geneva, Switzerland from 29-31 October" (UNO).

Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey