Our Birmingham has received a summary report surveying the health effects of climate change in the West Midlands. Associated organisations include DEFRA, the Health Protection Agency, UK Climate Projections, the Environment Agency the WM Climate Adaptation Partnership and WMPHO.

This document is aimed at those health professionals who have not yet made the link between climate change and health and was sent by Paul Fisher at the Health Protection Agency, who is one of the authors.

There is a foreword by Dr Rashmi Shukla – Regional Director of Public Health. She welcomes and commends the report`s warning of the potential adverse effects of climate change on human health and the attention it draws to the significant health impacts that are likely to occur in our region during this century.

She concludes that if it galvanises us into action to reduce our carbon emissions it will have served us well, because many of the changes needed to mitigate climate change are also those that will immediately improve both our health and our health care services:

  • a substantial increase in cycling and walking rates,
  • more efficient use of energy,
  • the use, reuse and recycling of the goods and products that we need.

Then comes a series of predictions. Two samples:

1. 2020s: An increase of 5% in food and water borne diseases and an increase of up to 18% in respiratory disease admissions during the summer, which will coincide with a rise in incidence of hay fever and allergies

The short term adaptation strategy:

Continue to use and update the Department of Health’s heatwave plan and ensure insurance policies cover flooding in risk areas, such as the southwest and northeast of the Region.

2. 2050s: Increases in food poisoning of up to 12%. Hay fever and allergies may continue to rise and skin cancer cases could become more common.

Medium-term adaptation strategies:

Ensure that new builds and refurbishments are suitable mitigation strategies for future climates, install insulation and sustainable cooling systems in buildings and introduce green space in urban areas to reduce the Urban Heat Island effect.

Ensure flood defences and river management systems are adequate and continually improved.

Read the report here:

www.climatesoutheast.org.uk/images/uploads/Health_Effects_of_Climate_Change_in_the_West_Midlands_Summary_Report.pdf

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