Mind the gap: Reducing climate-related health risks
We must bridge the research–policy gap and use existing information to reduce the health risks caused by climate change, says Dziedzom De Souza.
He argues that although much research has focused on predicting climate change's impact on health, little has actually been applied to controlling or preventing diseases.
For example, studies have shown that a malaria epidemic is five times more likely in the year following an El Niño event — but this information is not being used to control the disease. The same applies to study models of lymphatic filariasis and schistosomiasis, he adds.
Partly this is because financial restraints make integrating model predictions into health planning difficult. But simple and pragmatic approaches could still be developed to use the knowledge from academic-based research, argues De Souza.
For example, we know that the risk of malaria transmission increases during rainy seasons — by implementing vector control strategies at the end of the dry season, we could significantly reduce mosquito breeding. The most important research challenge for climate change and health is to apply research findings to positively affect people's lives, says De Souza.