Climate change has affected various populations resulting in various health threats. Three populations are more vulnerable to climate change. They include older people, children, and people of color. Examples of health effects include malnutrition and vector-borne disease. As a result, both primary, secondary, and tertiary interventions are adapted to deal with health impacts. Therefore, climate changes result in various health effects on children, older people, and people of color, necessitating primary, secondary, and tertiary strategies to control the impacts.
One of the anticipated health effects of climate change in the USA is malnutrition. Climate changes affect diet and nutrition through various pathways. High temperature, unpredictable rainfalls, and ultimate weather occurrences like floods affect the prospective crop yields, thus leading to an increase in food and money insecurity. Poor health and diet-related diseases increase due to a lack of affordable and healthy diets. Countries in the USA, especially central states to western states, encounter a decrease in food availability, leading to a decrease in deaths ascribed to obesity and overweight and an increase in deaths ascribed to underweight (Jalalzadeh et al. 12). Also, climate change affects nutrition via infectious diseases like the dengue virus and zika virus, influenced by the scarcity of water affecting malnutrition by reducing water absorption (Caminade et al. 9). Therefore, healthy is affected adversely by climate change because of inadequate food supply and water, causing malnutrition.
Additionally, the anticipated health effect of climate change in the USA is the spread of Vector-borne disease. Vector-borne diseases are infections passed on by the bite of infected arthropod species, such as mosquitoes. Changes in temperature and rainfall patterns, extreme weather events like floods, and an increase in precipitation caused by climatic changes, provide more sites for vector breeding. Nevertheless, drought could provide more areas for breeding because of the availability of water collection points like dams and containers to collect water during the rainy season. Due to such changes, insects deracinate to more pleasing areas (Rocklöv et al. 2). Therefore, climatic changes like changes in temperature and rainfall patterns led to the development of vector-borne diseases like malaria.
Furthermore, children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Numerous factors make children more susceptible. Because they use more air and water than adults, children are more vulnerable to health problems such as neurological diseases, asthma and allergies, and diarrheal sickness due to climate change. Examples of these risks include pollution in the air, excessive heat, and floods in water sources. Secondly, children are vulnerable to climate change because of their poor immunity, growing bodily systems, and dependence on their parents. It is projected that 850 million children, or one-third of all children, live in regions affected by at least four such climatic and environmental shocks simultaneously (UNICEF 1). Consequently, they are at risk for malnutrition, increased vector-borne infections, and psychological stress due to climate changes such as food insecurity and drought.
In addition, older adults are more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change for a diversity of causes. First, a significant portion of the older population has a compromised immune system, which raises the likelihood that they may get ill. Consequently, climatic changes like air pollution and high heat offer a more significant risk since they put people in a position where they are more likely to suffer from health problems including heat-related sickness, dehydration, and heart disease (Gronlund 3). In addition, elderly individuals often have preexisting health issues and reduced mobility, both of which increase their susceptibility to danger in events such as floods, psychological stress, and falls.
Furthermore, although climate change impacts everyone, it disproportionately affects communities of color. Racial wealth disparities result from structural racism squeezing out financial chances for people of color. Even if they have college degrees, they are paid less than their white peers, inhibiting their ability to save and invest. Because of their limited financial resources, these communities have a more challenging time dealing with the effects of climate change (Tessum et al. 3). In the case of floods or other climatic changes, people are at risk for psychological instability and increased cardiac and lung issues.
Climate change adaptation has been integrated with public health classes such as Secondary, primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention to mitigate health consequences from climate change. Preventing sickness or harm before it occurs is the goal of primary prevention in the context of climate change (Kisling et al. 1). One example is rezoning the coastal property to guard against rising seas and more severe extreme weather events like coastal flooding.
Secondary prevention of adverse health outcomes occurs after the onset of illness but before the onset of symptoms is apparent. As a result of climate change, such measures include enhancing the tracking of infectious illnesses and developing public health and other facilities to survive severe weather events and other occurrences. Tertiary prevention in public health aims to reduce or eliminate the negative impacts of illness. All of these preventive steps are essential for a healthy society, and they form the backbone of a “no-look-back” adaptation approach (Kisling et al. 1). No regrets approach to climate change health impacts aligns with the humanitarian concerns that motivate most of the work on human susceptibility to ‘natural’ risks and environmental change.
Caminade, Cyril, K. Marie McIntyre, and Anne E. Jones. “Impact of recent and future climate change on vector‐borne diseases.” Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1436.1 (2019): 157-173.
Gronlund, C. J., Sullivan, K. P., Kefelegn, Y., Cameron, L., & O’Neill, M. S. (2018). Climate change and temperature extremes: A review of heat-and cold-related morbidity and mortality concerns of municipalities. Maturitas, 114, 54-59.
Jalalzadeh Fard, Babak, Jagadeesh Puvvula, and Jesse E. Bell. “Evaluating Changes in Health Risk from Drought Over the Contiguous United States.” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 19.8 (2022): 4628.
Kisling, Lisa A., and Joe M. Das. “Prevention strategies.” StatPearls [Internet]. StatPearls Publishing, 2021.
Rocklöv, Joacim, and Robert Dubrow. “Climate change: an enduring challenge for vector-borne disease prevention and control.” Nature immunology 21.5 (2020): 479-483.
Tessum, Christopher W., et al. “PM2. 5 polluters disproportionately and systemically affect people of color in the United States.” Science Advances 7.18 (2021): eabf4491.
UNICEF. One billion children at ‘extremely high risk’ of the impacts of the climate crisis (2021). Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/press-releases/one-billion-children-extremely-high-risk-impacts-climate-crisis-unicef#:~:text=An%20estimated%20850%20million%20children,at%20least%20five%20major%20shocks.