Climate Variability and Change and Their Potential Health Effects in Small Island States: Information for Adaptation Planning in the Health Sector


Kristie L. Ebi, Nancy D. Lewis and Carlos Corvalan


Small island states are likely the countries most vulnerable to climate variability and long-term climate change. Climate models suggest that small island states will experience warmer temperatures and changes in rainfall, soil moisture budgets, prevailing winds (speed and direction), and patterns of wave action. El Niño events likely will strengthen short-term and interannual climate variations. In addition, global mean sea level is projected to increase by 0.09-0.88 m by 2100, with variable effects on regional and local sea level. To better understand the potential human health consequences of these projected changes, a series of workshops and a conference organized by the World Health Organization, in partnership with the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environment Programme, addressed the following issues: the current distribution and burden of climate-sensitive diseases in small island states, the potential future health impacts of climate variability and change, the interventions currently used to reduce the burden of climate-sensitive diseases, additional interventions that are needed to adapt to current and future health impacts, and the health implications of climate variability and change in other sectors. Information on these issues is synthesized and key recommendations are identified for improving the capacity of the health sector to anticipate and prepare for climate variability and change in small island states.


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