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Climate change and global child health: what can paediatricians do?
  1. Zulfiqar Ahmed Bhutta1,2,
  2. Ashley Aimone3,
  3. Saeed Akhtar4
  1. 1 Centre for Global Child Health, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  2. 2 Center of Excellence in Women and Child Health, The Aga Khan University, Karachi, Pakistan
  3. 3 Centre for Global Child Health, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  4. 4 Institute of Food Science & Nutrition, Bahauddin Zakariya University, Multan, Pakistan
  1. Correspondence to Professor Zulfiqar Ahmed Bhutta, Robert Harding Chair in Global Child Health & Policy, Centre for Global Child Health, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, ON M5G 0A4, Canada ; zulfiqar.bhutta{at}

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A little over a decade ago, the Lancet Climate Commission concluded that anthropogenic climate change threatens to undermine the past 50 years of gains in public health and, conversely, that a comprehensive response to climate change could be ‘the greatest global health opportunity of the 21 st century’.1 In a recent review, experts quantified the impact of climate change on health and estimated that heatwaves between 2000 and 2016 had resulted in 5.3% lower outdoor manual productivity and that economic losses from climate change related events in 2016 alone totalled almost US$129 billion.2

Historically, major excess mortality peaks have been related to extreme weather events, such as the Bangladesh cyclone of 1991, Venezuela floods and mudslides of 1999 and Myanmar cyclone of 2008. These three extreme weather events alone accounted for more than 300000 deaths.2 It is estimated that Hurricane Maria affecting Puerto Rico in 2017 was associated with excess mortality with estimates ranging between 2700 and 4600 deaths.3 4

In addition to direct effects and increased risks of climate change associated disasters such as drought or floods, global climate change has been associated with major changes in infectious diseases risks. The annual numbers of cases of dengue fever have doubled every decade since 1990, with 58.4 million apparent cases in 2013, accounting for more than 10 000 deaths.5 Other infectious diseases, such …

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