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Climate change and health in Israel: adaptation policies for extreme weather events

There is strong evidence indicating that the frequency and duration of several types of extreme weather events are increasing in the Mediterranean Basin, including Israel. The authors of this article, researchers from four Israeli academic institutions, conducted a review of the literature on the possible health consequences of extreme weather events in Israel (where the conditions are characteristic of the Mediterranean region). The articles examine the public health policy implications for adaptation to climate change in the region. Preparedness for the public health impact of increased extreme weather events is found to be still relatively limited and the urgent need for clear public health policies is emphasised. The authors recommend that several climate change adaptation policies be developed and tailored to the needs of Israel and other countries in the Mediterranean Basin. They should be directed particularly at reducing the adverse health effects resulting from the increase in extreme weather events due to climate change. These include the development of climate alert systems, improved preparedness of the health systems, enhanced monitoring of morbidity and mortality, education programs for both professionals and the public and management of the urban environment. In light of the possible interactive effect between air pollution and extreme weather events, efforts should be made to reduce air pollution to the minimum. The adaptation plans must take into account the special needs and cultures of minority groups, vulnerable groups, the elderly and the chronically ill. Efforts should be made to increase regional collaboration on these issues, by pooling knowledge, coordinating monitoring and alert systems and developing common adaptation policies relevant to the Mediterranean basin.