Climate Change and Health

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  • Even though the impact of global climate change on local weather systems and ecosystems is well-researched, its direct and indirect consequences on human health have not been well documented. Through this programme, the UNU International Institute for Global Health (UNU-IIGH) aims to investigate the complex inter-relationships between climatic and environmental changes and human health. The key strategy is to adopt an interdisciplinary approach to investigate and understand the key environmental determinants of human health. Subsequently, adaptation and mitigation measures can be proposed to lessen the consequent health burden. Among the impacts of climatic and environmental change on human health to be studied will be the impacts on incidences of water-related diseases, which include waterborne and vector-borne diseases and impacts on air quality and respiratory illnesses. Another approach will be to assess the impacts of climate change on large river basins.

    Focal Point

    This programme is led by UNU-IIGH Research Fellow Professor Dr. Jamal Hisham Hashim.

    Purpose

    This programme addresses the pressing issues of the impacts of climate change on human health specifically, but also the overall relationships between the environment and human health. Focus is given to these issues as they relate to developing countries.

    Approach

    The approach is mainly through research activities. Currently, there are four research projects under this programme, namely i) Global Vulnerability to Disease (VyGIL) — Developing an Interactive Global Vulnerability Tool; ii) Health Risk and Health Care Cost Assessment of Arsenicosis in Cambodia; iii) Air Pollution and Respiratory Symptoms among Secondary Schoolchildren in Malaysia; and iv) Assessing Air Pollution Exposures in Pacific Rim Port Communities.

    Gender

    Female researchers and field workers are included in all research projects.

    Target Audience

    The audience and stakeholders include local communities, community leaders, national health authorities and policy makers.

    Intended Impact

    Impact: Influencing policymaking, furthering knowledge and developing capacities.
    Target: This programme targets policymakers, health practitioners and international organisations such as the World Health Organisation and UNICEF
    How: At the conclusion of each research project, a stakeholders’ seminar will be conducted to disseminate research findings and to formulate recommendations on how to overcome the health issues being raised. Each research project will involve collaboration with other higher learning and research institutes from several countries. Participation of in-service officers and health professionals as co-researchers will be actively sought to harness their practical experiences. Each research project will also generate postgraduate students at the master’s and PhD levels. Preference will be given to candidates from the country where the research is being conducted and those from developing countries.

    Research Findings

    Early research findings have been documented and to date this programme has published three articles in scientific journals.

    Policy Bridging

    This is not yet achievable as the programme is in the early stage of implementation.

    Value Added

    This programme will bring UNU to the forefront in research on the links between human health, climate change and the environment as there are few institutions worldwide currently addressing this concern.

    Dissemination

    Dissemination of information will be through scientific reports, presentations and publications.

    Timeline/Programme Cycle

    All projects in the programme will be carried out in 2012 and 2013

    Evaluation

    Evaluations are being achieved through regular research meetings, workshops and progress reports conducted with research collaborators.

    Challenges

    Some of the challenges include the lack of scientific capacity amongst local manpower and financial constraints. However, the former is being addressed through capacity building activities.

  • Activities within the programme will involve cooperation between the UNU International Institute for Global Health and three partners:

    • UNU Institute for Integrated Management of Material Fluxes and of Resources
    • UNU Institute for Water, Environment and Health
    • Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology
  • Dr. Mohamed Salleh Mohamed Yasin, Director
    United Nations University
    International Institute for Global Health
    HUKM Complex
    Faculty of Medicine
    Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia
    Jalan Yaacob Latiff
    56000 Cheras
    Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

    T: +60 3 9171-5394
    F: +60 3 9171-5402
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