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Impacts of climate change on public health in India: future research directions

Building on the information presented at the 2009 Joint Indo–U.S. Workshop on Climate Change and Health in Goa, India, this paper reviews relevant literature and data, to address gaps in knowledge, and identify priorities and strategies for future research in India.

The authors argue that:

  • Climate change and associated increases in climate variability willlikely further exacerbate global health disparities. As such, moreresearch is needed, particularly in developing countries, to accuratelypredict the anticipated impacts and inform effective interventions.
  • The scope of the problem in India is enormous, based on the potential for climate change and variability to exacerbate endemic malaria, dengue, yellow fever, cholera, and chikungunya, as well as chronic diseases, particularly among the millions of people who already experience poor sanitation, pollution, malnutrition, and a shortage of drinking water.
  • In light of this realisation, the authors highlight the importance of improving the surveillance, monitoring, and integration of meteorological, environmental, geospatial, and health data while working in parallel to implement adaptation strategies.

Key conclusions and recommendations:

  • It is critical for India to invest in improvements in information infrastructure that are innovative and that promote interdisciplinary collaborations while embarking on adaptation strategies.
  • This will require unprecedented levels of collaboration across diverse institutions in India and abroad.
  • The ensuing data can be used in research on the likely impacts of climate change on health that reflect India’s diverse climates and populations.
  • Finally, the authors recommend the enhancement of local human and technical capacities for risk communication and promoting adaptive behavior.