18.104.22.168 Human health
There are many initiatives that should be implemented in order to deal with different health impacts due to climate change in Latin American countries. Awareness regarding impacts should be enhanced in the region, including community involvement (see Chapter 8, Section 8.6.1). One main shortcoming is that a lack of information adversely affects decision-making, so research and human-resource training are fundamental. Therefore, one of the main tasks to support research and decision-making is to build up statistical information relating health conditions and events to the corresponding climate and related environmental issues (e.g., floods, tornados, landslides, etc.), based on a strengthened surveillance system for climate-sensitive diseases (see Chapter 8, Section 8.6) (Anderson, 2006). It is essential to establish a regular channel of communication -with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) to report and classify such information, to integrate the data into a regionalisation of sanitary/health conditions, and thus improve early warnings of epidemics. The advantages of international initiatives such as the Global Health Watch 2005-2006 – not simply as a recipient of information but also as a provider of information – should also be considered. The assessments should take into account human health vulnerability and public health adaptation to climate change.
As human health is a result of the interplay between many different sectors, it is important to consider the impacts in the water sector in order to identify the measures focusing on the surveillance of water-borne diseases and vulnerable populations, as well as impacts from the agricultural sector, biodiversity, natural resources, air pollution and drought. An important concern relating to health is the implications of increased human migration and changes in disease patterns; this implies greater intergovernmental co-ordination and cross-boundary actions. Future analysis based on ecological niche modelling for disease vectors will be very useful to provide new potentials for optimising the use of resources for disease prevention and remediation via automated forecasting of disease transmission rates (Costa et al., 2002; Peterson et al., 2005).