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Concerning new report warns that a public health crisis is claiming more and more lives: 'It's disheartening'

"[It's] not a distant threat to health; it's a current threat to health."

"[It's] not a distant threat to health; it's a current threat to health."

Photo Credit: iStock

In Pakistan, the climate crisis has already caused serious ramifications.

What's happening?

Around the world, intensifying heat waves, flooding, droughts, and diseases are harming vulnerable populations. Places like Pakistan are on the frontlines.

Last year, extreme rainfall submerged a third of the country, bringing lethal sickness in its wake. Malaria cases have surged, crops are failing, and dangerous heat leaves people nauseous and dizzy, reports The Washington Post.

"I have been a doctor here for two decades and such climate changes I have not seen before," said M. Moinuddin Siddiqui, medical director of a 350-bed hospital in central Sindh, Pakistan, per the Post. Siddiqui said the hospital's number of heatstroke patients increases by 20% every year, and that he treats heat-related high-grade fevers, vomiting, diarrhea, and related diseases such as gastroenteritis daily. "It's disheartening."

Why is this concerning?

Rising global temperatures fuel these threats. Parts of South Asia and the Middle East may soon swelter under humid heat so extreme that spending over 15 minutes in the sun risks illness even for healthy adults, the Post reports. By 2050, 1.3 billion people could face over a month per year of dangerous, inescapable heat.

The number of heat-related deaths among people over 65 increased by 68% between 2017 and 2021 compared to between 2000 and 2004, according to The Lancet. Vulnerable people struggle most as malnutrition spikes and natural disasters destroy homes.

Kristie L. Ebi, a professor in the Center for Health and the Global Environment at the University of Washington, affirmed these statistics. 

"We can say now that people are dying from climate change, and that's a different kind of statement than we would have made before," she told the Post. "Climate change is not a distant threat to health; it's a current threat to health."

What's being done?

Many countries have pledged to curb pollution through international treaties, such as the United Nations' Paris Agreement. Meanwhile, Pakistan seeks aid to expand rural hospitals, move residents from floodplains, and improve water accessibility.

Individuals can also help, no matter where they are in the world. We can swap gas-guzzlers for electric vehicles, eat less meat, and drink from reusable bottles. Building a safe future is like being handed Lego blocks: our choices stack up.

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