International Journal of Public Health 2010, 55, 97-103
Objectives Several categories of ill health important at the global level are likely to be affected by climate change. To date the focus of this association has been on communicable diseases and injuries. This paper briefly analyzes potential impacts of global climate change on chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Method We reviewed the limited available evidence of the relationships between climate exposure and chronic and NCDs. We further reviewed likely mechanisms and pathways for climatic influences on chronic disease occurrence and impacts on pre-existing chronic diseases. Results There are negative impacts of climatic factors and climate change on some physiological functions and on cardio-vascular and kidney diseases. Chronic disease risks are likely to increase with climate change and related increase in air pollution, malnutrition, and extreme weather events. Conclusions There are substantial research gaps in this arena. The health sector has a major role in facilitating further research and monitoring the health impacts of global climate change. Such work will also contribute to global efforts for the prevention and control of chronic NCDs in our ageing and urbanizing global population.