Health chief warns climate change poses ‘serious health risk’ to most vulnerable in Wales
Climate change poses a ‘serious health risk’ to the most vulnerable in Wales, Chief Medical Officer Frank Atherton has warned in his annual report.
The report, which covers the second year of the Covid pandemic, as well as looking ahead to future challenges, highlights how climate change will become a pressing public health issue increasingly dominating our lives.
It also considers the impact of the pandemic on the most deprived areas of Wales and how the health and social care system responded to it.
The CMO’s report also reflects on the demographic trend towards an older population in Wales with a subsequent decreasing proportion of working-age people.
In the environmental public health chapter, the report warns an increase in unusual weather events, such as extreme heat, cold and flood events, is likely to disproportionately affect the most vulnerable living in deprived areas and exacerbate already prevalent public health inequalities.
Dr Atherton said: “The public health argument for taking action to address climate change now is strong.
“Climate change will increasingly dominate our lives in the foreseeable future and the benefit of effective interventions would far outweigh their cost
“We know the pandemic has disproportionately affected the most deprived areas in Wales and had the greatest impact on our ageing population.
“We must do everything in our powers to ensure climate change doesn’t have similarly devastating consequences.”
The CMO’s annual report warns it is only through mitigating and adapting that we can respond to the impacts of climate change.
Mitigation includes reducing the sources of harmful greenhouse gases, whilst adaptation is about individuals, organisations and communities understanding and making changes to respond to the likely impacts of climate change
Health Minister Eluned Morgan said: “The effects of climate change on the environment around the world are clear to see and they pose a significant threat to public health.
“Climate change can impact access to the most basic health requirements, including clean air, safe water and sufficient food.
“We must take action now to prevent climate change having a devastating effect on the most vulnerable.”
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