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About the Royal Society

For richer, for poorer: sickness not health

15 July 2010

Evidence suggests that the influence of climate change, globalisation and reduced resources will have a deprecating affect on global health – and not just on low-income nations. Sir Magdi Yacoub FRS explains:

“As the global temperature rises, mosquitoes and other vectors carrying diseases like malaria, dengue fever and Chagas will spread - nations which don’t have good healthcare systems will suffer the most, but it will arrive at our own doorsteps too. This is very much a global problem. According to WHO* two fifths of the world’s population are already at risk from dengue fever – that’s 2.5billion people. The number of people infected has increased at least four-fold over the last three decades. Globalisation and climate change will help it to continue spreading.

“As if the problems caused by globalisation and climate change are not enough, the decline of resources will also lead to an increase in the neglected diseases like Chagas, and non-communicable diseases like cardiovascular diseases - which are already the greatest cause of global mortality.”

The fiercely debated issue of climate change has become one of the most evocative and emotive subjects in the modern world, but the detrimental effect it has on global health – which is exacerbated by globalisation and resource shortages – is often overlooked. Sir Magdi Yacoub FRS continues:

“The challenges facing global health continue to increase and the changes in disease appearance and evolution are relentless. We need to consider that many diseases could drastically evolve and dangerous new diseases could emerge as a result of globalisation, the change in climate and the reduction of global resources.”

Other subjects covered include new sustainable technologies, strategic resource shortages and the economic impacts of climate change. For more details, click here.