What is it about?

Climate change poses a serious threat to life on earth, and countries around the world are trying to adapt to this pressing global problem. Understanding how these adaptation strategies affect public health is crucial for building sustainable environmental policies, but these effects are not well-understood at present. To address this, the authors of this paper screened the ‘Global Adaptation Mapping Initiative’ database—which contains 1682 studies related to climate change responses—for studies reporting the effects of adaptation responses on human health in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Overall, they identified 99 studies reporting data from 66 LMICs; although most of these studies focused on behavioral response strategies for climate change adaptation, some discussed infrastructural and technological interventions. Unfortunately, only two studies formally investigated effects expected in the future. The primary outcomes examined were the reduction in infectious diseases, access to water and sanitation, and food security. However, very few studies examined factors like death rates, and none focused on maternal and child health. The authors found that most cases in which adaptation responses led to negative effects involved increasing socioeconomic inequalities. However, given that only 3.5% of the health outcomes were reported to be negative, they found that the available data may not be fully reliable.

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Why is it important?

Overall, the review highlights the large paucity of reliable information on how climate change adaptation policies affect public health, especially for vulnerable groups like women and children. Although some evidence points to the benefits of these strategies, a major blind spot exists. Therefore, funding efforts and better, more comprehensive studies on the effect of climate change adaptation responses on public health are needed. KEY TAKEAWAY Studying the health effects of climate change adaptation strategies could provide valuable evidence that could be used to develop effective long-term policies for protecting the environment and preserving human health.

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This page is a summary of: The effects on public health of climate change adaptation responses: a systematic review of evidence from low- and middle-income countries, Environmental Research Letters, July 2021, Institute of Physics Publishing, DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/ac092c.
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