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International Experts Meet to Discuss Health Threats Due to Global Warming

2007-06-28 12:05 469

KUALA LUMPUR, June 28 /Xinhua-PRNewswire/ -- International experts will meet here from 2 to 5 July to discuss the threat to health posed by global warming in the Asia Pacific region. With global mean temperature forecast to increase by as much as six degrees Celsius by the end of the century, delegates will be urged to take steps now to face the problem.

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A recent study by the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that climate change directly or indirectly contributes to about 77 000 deaths annually in Asia and the Pacific -- about half of the world total attributed to climate change

Dr Shigeru Omi, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific, warned: “We have now reached a critical stage in which global warming has already seriously impacted lives and health, and this problem will pose an even greater threat to mankind in coming decades if we fail to act now.”

Among the potential effects of global warming would be the appearance of mosquitoes where they were previously absent, with the accompanying threat of malaria and dengue fever. Some regions might be at risk of reduced rainfall, causing a shortage of fresh water and introducing the danger of waterborne diseases. Millions of people could be at risk of malnutrition and hunger if arable lands become unworkable.

Representatives will also be told that the increasing frequency of summer heat waves in temperate zones (Europe in 2003 and Asia in 2004), and typhoons, hurricanes and floods throughout the world are signs of changing weather and climate patterns.

The workshop, which is being organized by WHO Regional Offices for South-East Asia and the Western Pacific, in collaboration with WHO headquarters in Geneva, will be attended by representatives of 14 countries, as well as by WHO partners in the environmental field.

The workshop will be held at the Parkroyal Kuala Lumpur Hotel. Key findings from this workshop will be shared at the forthcoming ministerial meeting on environment and health in Bangkok on 8 and 9 August, attended by Ministers of Health and Environment from 14 countries in the South-East and East Asia regions.

Source: World Health Organization