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Methods of assessing human health vulnerability and public health adaptation to climate change

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S. Kovats
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Environmental changes associated with climate change processes are significantly disrupting the Earth’s infrastructure and posing a risk to human well-being and health. The likely future problem of disease and adverse health impacts linked to climate change will be dependant on timeliness and effectiveness of adaptation and intervention that is implemented.This paper is aimed to serve as a reference for activities associated with protection of human health and the human environment and will be of particular use to Parties to the UNFCCC, health related adaptation activities within National Adaptation Programmes of Action, and health ministries and institutions within member states of the WHO and Climate Agenda.It was recommended in the Third Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health in London 1999 that the capacity to undertake national assessments of health effects relating to climate change should be developed. The objective of such assessments should be to identify specifically vulnerable groups and recognise interventions to reduce the potential burden of disease. This publication is designed to provide practical information and advice to governments, health agencies and environmental institutions on quantitative and qualitative methods of assessing human health vulnerability and public health adaptation strategies. In relation to methods and tools for human health assessment the outcomes considered include morbidity and mortality associated with heat and heat waves, air pollution, vector-borne disease, waterborne disease and foodborne disease.