Climate change affecting Pacific health | Pacific Beat

Climate change affecting Pacific health

Climate change affecting Pacific health

Updated 16 January 2013, 10:23 AEDT

Given the long term predictions that we will face more hotter days and extreme weather, medical authorities say the implications for human health as a result of climate change are serious.

It's not just the heat, pacific countries are already experiencing problems with food and water, causing displacement for some communities.

Presenter: Sarah Clarke

Speaker: Maria Siimon Chi Fang, Kiribati resident, Professor Tony McMichael, Australian National University, Jill Finnane, Pacific Calling Partnership

CLARKE. It's the old, the very young and the sick who suffer most when the heat strikes. With a forecast of more days above 35 degrees and more heatwaves like last week .. medical authorities have laid out the prognosis for climate change. Professor Tony McMichael is from the Australian National University.

MCMICHAEL. "We've had enough experience with 1 or 2 severe heatwaves in the last few years to see it doesn't take much to overload the ambulance service, the emergency beds in hospitals and even I am afraid the morgue facilities".

CLARKE. More heart attacks, more strokes, exhaustion and more heat-related deaths, that's the prediction from the Climate Commission. And with hotter temperatures comes a greater chance of more bushfires. The report warns that could translate to more smoke-induced asthma attacks and burns. There's also the potential for the spread of disease transmitting mosquitoes as rainfall patterns change. Tony McMichael again.

MCMICHAEL. "It's not only mosquitoes that will thrive in a warmer and wetter conditions but it will also be influenced by their natural host populations before they spill over into humans and that includes malaria if it were reintroduced to Australia, dengue fever, another other viral disease spread by disease, Japanese encephalitis which is quite easily spread from indonesia and PNG down into Australia in a much warmer world so they are the two types of diseases spread between humans and those spread by mosquitoes".

CLARKE. The climate scientists have also delivered an outlook of more intense storms and extreme weather. Some of the low lying pacific nations are considered to already be on the frontline. Jill Finnane is from the Pacific calling partnership which is helping communities deal with basic issues like food and water supplies.

FINNANE. "When you get a big storm, you not only get coastal erosion like what we have all seen here in Australia, because the islands are so long and narrow the water washes straight over contaminating the well water so the water is then salty and not safe or pleasant to drink so they're experiencing that kind of thing already".

CLARKE. Some Pacific communities say it's not just day to day health, it's also their entire livelihood, with some forced to move in search of higher ground. Maria Siimon Chi Fang is a resident of Kiribati.... She's worried about her future in the Pacific.

SIIMON CHI FANG. "Climate change for the kiribati people is about losing our culture, losing our identity everything that we have. cut edit time is running out with the kiribati people we cant wait.

Contact the studio

Got something to say about what you're hearing on the radio right now?

Send your texts to +61 427 72 72 72

Add the hashtag #raonair to add your tweets to the conversation.

Email us your thoughts on an issue. Messages may be used on air.