Global warming threatens health, doctors say

This September 2017 video from the World Health Organization South-East Asia Region – WHO SEARO says about itself:

Climate Change and Health

Climate change is happening, and is a risk to public health. Whether from greater severity and intensity of extreme weather events, changes in the spread and abundance of disease-carrying vectors such as mosquitoes, or changes to the physical environment that cause displacement or threaten livelihoods, climate change is already having an impact across our Region.

As many diseases and health conditions are climate-sensitive, the impact of climate change on health needs to be included in health policies and planning. In recognition of the immense and increasing public health risks caused by climate change, Member countries of WHO South-East Asia Region unanimously endorsed the Malé Declaration in September 2017, committing to build health systems able to anticipate, respond to, cope with, recover from and adapt to climate-related shocks and stress.

From the European Academies’ Science Advisory Council, Leopoldina – Nationale Akademie der Wissenschaften:

Climate action urgently required to protect human health in Europe

June 3, 2019

Summary: In a landmark report, the European Academies’ Science Advisory Council (EASAC) focuses on the consequences of climate change for human health in Europe and the benefits of acting now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to stabilize the climate.

EASAC is the voice of independent science advice, mobilising Europe’s leading scientists from 27 national science academies to guide EU policy for the benefit of society. By considering a large body of independent studies on the effects of climate change on health, and on strategies to address the risks to health, EASAC has identified key messages and drawn important new conclusions. The evidence shows that climate change is adversely affecting human health and that health risks are projected to increase. Solutions are within reach and much can be done by acting on present knowledge, but this requires political will. With current trends in greenhouse gas emissions, a global average temperature increase of over 3°C above pre-industrial levels is projected by the end of the century. The increase will be higher over land than the oceans, exposing the world population to unprecedented rates of climate change and contributing to the burden of disease and premature mortality. Health risks will increase as climate change intensifies through a range of pathways including:

  • Increased exposure to high temperatures and extreme events such as floods and droughts, air pollution and allergens;
  • Weakening of food and nutrition security;
  • Increased incidence and changing distribution of some infectious diseases (including mosquito-borne, food-borne and water-borne diseases);
  • Growing risk of forced migration.

EASAC emphasises that the top priority is to stabilise climate and accelerate efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions. The economic benefits of action to address the current and prospective health effects of climate change are likely to be substantial.

Working Group co-chair, Professor Sir Andy Haines (London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine), comments, “If urgent action is not taken to reduce emissions in order to keep temperatures below the 2°C (or less) limit enshrined in the Paris Climate Agreement, we face potentially irreversible changes that will have wide-ranging impacts on many aspects of health. The scientific community has an important role in generating knowledge and countering misinformation. We hope that this comprehensive report will act as a wake-up call and draw attention to the need for action, particularly by pursuing policies to decarbonise the economy. The protection of health must have a higher profile in policies aimed at mitigating or adapting to the effects of climate change.” Key messages addressed in the report include:

  • Several hundred pollution pollution deaths annually in the EU could be averted by a ‘zero-carbon’ economy through reduced air pollution. Pollution endangers planetary health, damages ecosystems and is intimately linked to global climate change. Fine particulate and ozone air pollution arise from many of the same sources as emissions of greenhouse gases and short-lived climate pollutants. For the EU overall, fossil-fuel-related emissions account for more than half of the excess mortality attributed to ambient (outdoor) air pollution. A recent estimate suggests that about 350,000 excess deaths annually in the EU can be attributed to ambient air pollution from burning fossil fuels and a total of about 500,000 from all human-related activities. Understanding of the range of health effects of air pollution on the health of children and adults is growing. Seven million babies in Europe are living in areas where air pollution exceeds WHO recommended limits and such exposure may affect brain development and cognitive function. Action to reduce pollution through decarbonisation of the economy must be viewed as a priority to address both climate change and public health imperatives.
  • Promotion of healthier, more sustainable diets with increased consumption of fruit, vegetables and legumes and reduced red meat intake will lower the burden of non-communicable diseases and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

    Promoting dietary change could have major health and environmental benefits, resulting in significant reductions of up to about 40% in greenhouse gas emissions from food systems as well as reducing water and land use demands. Such diets can also lead to major reductions on non-communicable disease burden through reduced risk of heart disease, stroke and other conditions.

    If food and nutrition security declines because of climate change, the EU can probably still satisfy its requirements by importing food. But this will have increasing consequences for the rest of the world; for example, by importing fodder for livestock from arable land that has been created through deforestation. It is therefore vital to develop climate-smart food systems to ensure more resilient agricultural production and to promote food and nutrition security, for the benefit of human health.

  • Climate action could avert a significant increase in the spread of infectious diseases. The spread of infectious diseases in Europe could increase through climate change. These diseases include those that are spread by vectors (particularly mosquitos) and food- and water-borne infections. There is also an increased risk to animal health across Europe from conditions such as Blue tongue virus. Distribution of the mosquito species Aedes albopictus, known to be a vector for diseases such as dengue, is already expanding in Europe and may extend to much of Western Europe within the next decade.

    Water-borne infections such as diarrhea may increase following heavy rainfall and flooding and higher temperatures may be associated with increased antibiotic resistance for pathogens such as E. coli. In the case of Salmonella species, an increase in temperature will increase multiplication and spread in food and increase the risks of food poisoning. There could also be an increase in Norovirus infections related to heavy rainfall and flooding. Strengthening communicable disease surveillance and response systems should be a priority for improving adaptation to climate change.

  • Providing evidence of the health benefits of action on climate change may be instrumental in achieving rapid reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Although the EU is actively engaged in efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to identify suitable adaptation measures, the impacts of climate change on health have been relatively neglected in EU policy. Recognising the serious challenges that climate change poses to the global health gains made in recent decades is key to promoting public engagement. Furthermore, the impact of climate change in other regions can have tangible consequences in Europe and the EU has responsibilities in addressing problems outside its area.

    The EU must do more to ensure that health impact assessment is part of all proposed initiatives, and that climate and health policy is integrated with other policy priorities including coordinating strategies at EU and national level. It is also vital that the steps are taken to counter misinformation about the causes and consequences of climate change which threaten to undermine the political will to act.

Sudan dictatorship shoots patients in hospitals

This 2 June 2019 video says about itself:

Gunfire as Sudan military moves in to clear Khartoum sit-in

Gunfire as Sudan military moves in to clear Khartoum sit-in: Troops have used tear gas and fired on protesters camped out at the army headquarters in Sudan’s capital Khartoum.

Multiple injuries have been reported. The Sudanese Professionals Association says the military council has assigned a large number of troops to disperse the protest. Demonstrators say people are still coming from all over Sudan to join the sit-in. We speak to a number of protesters on the phone to update us on the situation.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Eyewitnesses: “Sudanese militia entered hospitals and opened fire”

The stories of eyewitnesses come from the Sudanese capital Khartoum. Early this morning, paramilitaries attacked a tent camp of protesters in front of the military headquarters. The paramilitaries set fire to tents, beat up protesters, and shot the crowd with live ammunition. According to Associated Press, at least 13 people were killed and 116 injured.

On Friday, army leaders already warned that they would take action against the protesters who had been sitting every day for weeks near the army headquarters for weeks. …

Various sources tell the NOS that after that operation militia units have spread throughout the capital. They go from neighbourhood to neighbourhood and shoot at targeted groups to drive people off the streets. The sources report that snipers are on the roofs of buildings to prevent new demonstrations. Armed men have invaded a hospital and have opened fire there, say several sources.

“Can you hear the gunshots?” Mohamed Salman has just stepped outside to talk to the NOS via his mobile phone. But on the street it’s too dangerous, so he goes back inside quickly. “They arrived in my neighbourhood with many vehicles. They took positions and started to disperse small groups of people by shooting in the air and firing tear gas. I have spoken to friends in other neighbourhoods who say there aree no warning shots, only shots aimed at people.”

What happened this morning on the square in front of the military headquarters is gradually becoming clearer. Cars with armed men arrived in the square before dawn. They came from two sides of the square and surrounded the demonstrators. The men fired tear gas from one side, while shots were fired from the other direction.

Beaten and shaved

While people tried to flee, the armed men beat up protesters. “Some demonstrators – those who have dreadlocks – were shaved by the men,” Salman says on the phone.

Who are the armed men? “They are two organizations”, says Sudanese Ahmed Abushaam, who lives in the Netherlands. He explains who he means: the Sudanese secret service, and the Rapid Support Forces, the paramilitary organisation formerly called the Janjaweed, but which changed its name after the civil war in Darfur where they played a notorious role. “This is exactly how the Janjaweed operates. What they used to do in Darfur, they now do in our capital,” said Abushaam.

“We are not at all safe,” says demonstrator Abdelmonim Ali, who fled into a house on one of the outskirts of Khartoum. “We have a wounded person with us. We can’t go anyway because the snipers walk over the roofs of all the buildings on this street.”

Another demonstrator tells his story to the NOS: “The attacks started at 5 o’clock in the morning. We were on the street, but all had to flee in different direction and so I lost sight of my friends and fellow protesters. Many people I know were injured, but when I went to see the hospital there were also shots. I had to leave the building quickly and went back to my own hiding place. At the moment I see on Facebook that more and more people are revolting. In villages around the capital, people are actually taking to the streets, even if it is dangerous to do that. People are motivated by this to fight on and to rebel.”

The demonstrations that have been taking hold of Sudan for months have flared up again in recent weeks after negotiations between the army and the opposition hit an impasse. The army top brass wants to take the lead in an interim government that should provide for economic recovery and democratic elections. The opposition demands leadership by itself, and fears that senior military officers will find a way to keep the deposed President Bashir’s party in power for the long term.

Why the paramilitaries have intervened today is not certain, but several sources point to the trip abroad that Commander Hemedti made at the end of May. Hemedti, Bashir’s former right-hand man, has just returned from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. These three countries have promised billions in support for the Sudanese army commanders. The royal family in Saudi Arabia in particular wants to maintain their warm ties with Hemedti because he provides military support [child soldiers] to the Saudis … in the … war in neighbouring Yemen.

That is against ordinary Sudanese, demonstrator Abdelmonim Ali says. “The people are furious”, he says. “We thought we could make a deal with the army. But now people all over Sudan are resisting. We want change. We have demonstrated peacefully. Those who killed innocent civilians today will be on trial.”