Health risks of climate change in Asia

Authors: Kristie L Ebi, University of Washington, Yun-Chul Hong, Seoul National University and Alistair Woodward, Auckland University Surface air temperatures over land have increased by around 1.5 degrees Celsius in the last 150 years, leading to adverse impacts on human health and well-being. Further warming will magnify these risks, depending on the extent of emissions […] The post Health risks of climate change in Asia first appeared on East Asia Forum.

Health risks of climate change in Asia

Authors: Kristie L Ebi, University of Washington, Yun-Chul Hong, Seoul National University and Alistair Woodward, Auckland University

Surface air temperatures over land have increased by around 1.5 degrees Celsius in the last 150 years, leading to adverse impacts on human health and well-being. Further warming will magnify these risks, depending on the extent of emissions reduction and investment in building climate-resilient health systems.



Asia is particularly vulnerable due to increased exposure to the consequences of climate change. It is projected to experience increases in ambient temperatures, extreme precipitation events and sea level rise. These will have health consequences, including temperature-related morbidity and mortality, injuries and deaths from extreme weather events, vector-borne diseases and undernutrition.

Asia has already experienced an increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events such as tropical cyclones, floods, droughts and heatwaves, resulting in significant numbers of injuries and deaths. The region is particularly at risk because of the large and growing populations, long coastlines, abundant low-lying areas and reliance on the agricultural sector and natural resources. Increasing unpredictability of the annual monsoon is of particular concern in Southeast Asia. These vulnerabilities amplify climate-related risks in many countries.

Compounding of extreme weather events, such as high temperatures coinciding with cyclones or back-to-back heatwaves, are also of particular concern and will occur with increasing frequency.

Under most scenarios, rising temperatures will expose large populations to health-damaging heatwaves throughout Asia. Risks will be especially severe in densely populated cities and agricultural areas of South Asia and eastern China. Higher average temperatures reduce productivity of outdoor workers, and can also adversely affect maternal and child health.

Successful heat action plans have been implemented in India, China and other countries. These need to be regularly reviewed as the onset, severity and duration of dangerously high temperatures change. Improved access to air conditioning is part of heat adaptation in many settings but is not feasible at the scale required to protect entire populations.

Vector-borne diseases, particularly mosquito-borne diseases, are a major public health problem in Asia, with malaria, dengue fever and chikungunya at endemic levels in the region. Climate change affects ambient temperatures and precipitation levels in ways that are generally beneficial for mosquito populations, increasing their geographic range and extending transmission seasons for these diseases. Recurrent outbreaks pose significant health threats, as evidenced during the early years of the 21st century.

Warming temperatures, changing precipitation patterns and greater frequency of droughts and desertification have compromised food security in parts of Asia. Although climate change has increased crop yields in some high mountain regions, yields in lower-latitude regions have been negatively affected. Increased atmospheric carbon dioxide levels can lower the nutritional quality of crops. More frequent extreme weather events will also disrupt supply chains. With cereal prices projected to increase by 2050, the region’s most vulnerable people face food insecurity and hunger. Southeast Asia has already seen an increase of stunting in children.

Although frequently overlooked, mental health problems are common throughout Asia, and are amplified by stresses associated with climate change. Acute, climate-related events can lead to mental distress, which may manifest as anxiety, mood disorders and social withdrawal, and can increase suicide risk. Prolonged and repeated droughts have been associated with depression and self-harm, especially among farmers. Long-term climate change also undermines the sense of place that is foundational to mental well-being in all populations, and especially in indigenous cultures; sea-level rise in the Pacific is a well-documented example.

Shortening return periods between extreme weather events threatens the capacity of societies and individuals to recover confidence and promote mental healing. The compounding and increasingly negative effects of repeated COVID-19 lockdowns on morale and well-being illustrate this phenomenon.

Modelling suggests the most effective way of reducing the number of people vulnerable to climate change is through sustainable development that actively reduces socioeconomic inequality and poverty in Africa and Asia.

One analysis looked at the interplay between socioeconomic development and 14 climate change risks to water, energy and land sectors, including exposure to extreme heat events. Global exposure to multisector risk was projected to double, with a 1.5–2 degrees Celsius warming and then double again with a 3 degrees Celsius increase. With a 1.5–2 degrees Celsius increase, the total population exposed to multisectoral risks increased by 69–113 per cent and the level of exposure increased by 60–258 per cent. Most of the risk was in Asia and Africa.

The magnitude and pattern of future injuries, illnesses and deaths associated with climate change depend on the level of warming and on the socioeconomic development pathway followed. Pathways with higher population growth, high levels of consumption, limited investments in technology development and a low ability to adapt will magnify the health risks of climate change.

A comprehensive approach is needed to manage these risks, requiring scientists, policymakers, funding-source managers and the public to work together to address the impacts of climate change and build resilient communities. This requires well-coordinated, multisectoral actions with the active participation of individuals and communities at risk. Innovative policies based on sound science, political will and sustainable financing, supported and coordinated by international organisations like the World Health Organization, are essential for preparing for and managing the health risks of a warming planet.

Kristie L Ebi is Professor of Global Health and Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences at the Department of Global Health, the University of Washington.

Yun-Chul Hong is Professor at the Institute of Environmental Medicine and the Department of Preventive Medicine, Seoul National University College of Medicine.

Alistair Woodward is Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the School of Population Health, the University of Auckland.

The post Health risks of climate change in Asia first appeared on East Asia Forum.

Source : East Asia Forum More   

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Bangladesh Promises Justice For Chinese National Killed in Stabbing

Lau Phan, an electrical engineer, was killed in a robbery as he carried funds to pay his workers, in the fourth murder of a Chinese worker in Bangladesh since June 20, 2019.

Bangladesh Promises Justice For Chinese National Killed in Stabbing

In a phone call this week, Bangladesh’s foreign minister assured his counterpart in China that justice would be done in the killing earlier this month of a Chinese national working on a bridge construction project, a statement said Friday.

Police said the fatal stabbing occurred during an attempted mugging on Oct. 7, as the man was carrying funds to pay his workers at the bridge site in Pirojpur district in southern Bangladesh. It was the fourth killing since June 2019 of a Chinese national working on a major infrastructure project in Bangladesh.

“I had a very good telephone conversation with my Chinese counterpart Wang Yi. We talked about the Chinese national who was killed by a mugger in Pirojpur district. I assured him the killers must face a speedy trial, and the police already arrested two people including a man who allegedly stabbed the victim,” Foreign Minister A.K. Abdul Momen told BenarNews, an RFA-affiliated online news service, on Friday.

“The foreign minister has assured me that China maintains the confidence that we will mete out justice and guarantee the safety and security of the Chinese nationals working in different development projects in Bangladesh,” Momen said of their Thursday conversation.

Dhaka maintains warm relations with Beijing. In 2018, China spent U.S. $1.3 billion (110 billion taka) on projects including $800 million (67.8 billion taka) in the power sector to become the biggest investor in Bangladesh.

China is the principal country providing loans to Bangladesh for development projects mainly in the power, road, rail, and information and communication technology sectors. Those projects are linked to One Belt, One Road, Beijing’s ambitious program to build a global network of ports, highways, railways, bridges, and power plants to connect China to markets abroad.

The victim, identified as Chinese national Lau Phan, 58, who was the chief electrician of the eighth Bangladesh-China Friendship Bridge being constructed over the Kocha River, died Oct. 7, according to Hayatul Islam Khan, the district police chief in Pirojpur.

Hossain Sheikh, 19, who allegedly stabbed Lau in the chest, and a suspected accomplice, Sabbir Sheikh, 20, were arrested, Khan said, adding the charge sheet against the two had not been finished.

“They told us that they intended to mug him,” Khan told BenarNews.

“Hossain had worked under Lau but lost his job in March while Sabbir continued to work for him,” Khan said, noting that 14 Bangladeshis were part of the team. “On the afternoon of Oct. 7, Lau was carrying 253,000 taka ($2,984) to pay the wages of the workers.”

The police chief noted that Sabbir had told Hossain that Lau would have the workers’ pay that day.

“Hossain took the money and ran, but Lau caught him,” Khan said. “Hossain then stabbed him,” he said, adding Lau was taken to a hospital where he died.

China is to provide $30 million (2.5 billion taka) while Bangladesh is to provide $43 million (3.6 billion taka) to construct the nearly 1 km (six-tenths of a mile) bridge project, which is scheduled to be completed by June 2021.

Previous deaths

Last year, a Chinese national was killed at the Payra power plant project in southern Patuakhali district during a fight between Bangladeshi and Chinese workers. A labor leader said it was the first time a foreigner had been killed in a workplace clash in Bangladesh.

Earlier that day, a Bangladeshi worker had died after falling from a height at the Chinese-funded project, leading to the clash between workers from both countries. The Chinese victim in the brawl was an electrician. He died after suffering a head wound and excessive bleeding. Dozens of other people were injured in the fight.

The clash exposed apparent tensions among 7,000 Bangladeshi and 2,700 Chinese workers at the power plant being built with Chinese funds in Patuakhali, a district about 329 km (206 miles) south of Dhaka.

Five months later in November 2019, a Chinese national was sent back to his home country to stand trial after allegedly killing his roommate, another Chinese national. Sang Zeyang, a Payra power plant employee, allegedly stabbed and killed Feng Lue Jun during an argument over food.

In December 2019, two Bangladeshi security guards were arrested after they allegedly strangled another Chinese national, identified as Jianhui Gao, at his Dhaka apartment before burying him nearby. Jianhui was a stone supplier for the Padma Bridge project to connect Dhaka to the southern and southwestern sections of Bangladesh.

In February, Li Jiming, the Chinese Ambassador to Dhaka, told reporters that about 8,000 Chinese nationals had been working in Bangladesh.

Rohingya repatriation

Momen also told BenarNews that he had also discussed efforts to repatriate hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslim refugees with Wang, adding China’s top diplomat said that Myanmar could take steps to allow the refugees to return after the COVID-19 pandemic improved.

“The Chinese foreign minister told me that Myanmar officials had assured China that they will take back the Rohingya refugees. He also said China will mediate another meeting on Rohingya repatriation,” he said.

“The date of the meeting has yet to be set, but hopefully, it could take place after the general election in Myanmar,” Momen said of the Nov. 8 vote.

The last meeting involving Bangladesh, China and Myanmar occurred on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September 2019.

Munshi Faiz Ahmad, a former Bangladesh ambassador to Beijing, said China was the only country to mediate repatriation talks.

“The U.S. and the Western countries have been backing us on the Rohingya issue, but China is the only country that can make Myanmar agree to take back the Rohingya,” he told BenarNews.

“So Bangladesh must work closely with both China and the U.S. to resolve the Rohingya crisis, which is a huge burden for us.”

On Thursday, U.S. officials promised an additional $200 million to U.N. aid for the Rohingya during a virtual international conference that raised $600 million.

Bangladesh hosts close to 1 million Rohingya in refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar district, including 740,000 who escaped from Myanmar’s Rakhine state following a military crackdown in August 2017.

Reported by BenarNews, an RFA-affiliated online news service.

Source : Radio Free Asia More   

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