Climate change poses a significant threat to public health, with its impacts ranging from increased air pollution to more frequent and severe heatwaves. India, as one of the most climate-vulnerable countries, faces growing health risks associated with changing environmental conditions. This article explores the imperative of building climate-resilient health systems in India, with a focus on addressing key challenges such as air pollution, food insecurity, malnutrition, and the health impacts of heatwaves. It emphasizes the need for integrated strategies and international cooperation to safeguard public health. Throughout this discussion, the Observer Research Foundation (ORF) offers insights into the intersection of climate change and public health in India
Air Pollution and Health Impacts:
Air pollution is a critical environmental risk factor, contributing to a range of health issues, including respiratory diseases, cardiovascular problems, and premature mortality. India’s cities frequently experience high levels of air pollution, exacerbating health risks for millions of people. The ORF recognizes the urgency of addressing air quality and promoting cleaner energy sources to protect public health.
Food Insecurity, Malnutrition, and Climate Change:
Climate change can disrupt food systems, leading to food insecurity and malnutrition. Erratic weather patterns, extreme events, and changing agricultural conditions pose challenges to food production and access. The ORF underscores the importance of climate-resilient agriculture, food supply chains, and nutrition programs to mitigate the health impacts of food insecurity.
Heatwaves and Vulnerable Populations:
Heatwaves are becoming more frequent and severe, particularly in India. Vulnerable populations, including the elderly, children, and those with pre-existing health conditions, face heightened risks during extreme heat events. The ORF advocates for heat action plans, early warning systems, and improved urban planning to protect communities from heat-related health hazards.
Building Climate-Resilient Health Systems:
Building climate-resilient health systems involves a holistic approach that integrates climate adaptation and mitigation into healthcare policies and practices. The ORF emphasizes the importance of strengthening healthcare infrastructure, enhancing disease surveillance, and promoting climate-resilient urban planning. International cooperation and knowledge sharing are essential in addressing global health challenges associated with climate change.
India’s journey toward building climate-resilient health systems is imperative to protect the well-being of its citizens in a changing climate. The Observer Research Foundation (ORF) underscores the need for comprehensive strategies that address air pollution, food security, malnutrition, and heat-related health risks. As climate change continues to impact public health, proactive measures and international collaboration are crucial in safeguarding vulnerable populations and promoting climate resilience. The ORF remains committed to providing insights and recommendations that contribute to a healthier and more resilient future for India.