Health care – Adaptation


In the future, climate change may set new demands for health care. As the burden of diseases changes, the need for services changes: increasing extreme weather events, such as heat waves, multiply health problems, while dark winters with little or no snow can have an impact on the mental health, and spreading of food and vector transmitted diseases increases. The aging population and children, people suffering from cardiovascular diseases and allergies form a risk group to the health effects of climate change.

Exceptional situations increase the need for treatment but impede its supply

Health care should be prepared for exceptional weather events as well as an increase in pandemias and infections. During extreme weather events, climate change can, on the one hand, increase the demand for health services and, on the other hand, weaken the availability of these services. When designing and renovating buildings, extreme weather events should be given consideration and availability of electricity ascertained in all circumstances. In addition, the ventilation, heating and cooling needs of buildings must be adapted to the changing climate.

The adaptation measures should invest in and prepare for at least improvement of monitoring systems, communication and education, vaccinations, readiness to control epidemics and an increased health care need during hot weather.

Cooperation and sensible resourcing

Health care adaptation measures require diversified cooperation with other industries and operators such as climate experts and land use planners. To be able to allocate resources in a sensible manner, it is important to define which changes and impacts are significant. For example, one hot day does not require any special measures but a hot weather period lasting for a week might.

To avoid incorrect and expensive adaptation decisions, wide-ranging impacts of the measures must be known. For example, boosting air-conditioning is problematic because it consumes a lot of energy. This is why also other options should be clarified. For example, in London, new buildings are designed so that air-conditioning is only used when it is necessary. In addition, the city has decided to increase the number of shading and cooling vegetation in the city area.

References [1], [2], [3], [4]