8.1.3 Key developments since the Third Assessment Report
Overall, research over the last 6 years has provided new evidence to expand the findings of the TAR. Empirical research has further quantified the health effects of heatwaves (see Section 8.2.1). There has been little additional research on the health effects of other extreme weather events. The early effects of climate change on health-relevant exposures have been investigated in the context of changes in air quality and plant and animal phenology (see Chapter 1 and Sections 8.2.7 and 8.2.8). There has been research on a wider range of health issues, including food safety and water-related infections. The contribution made by climate change to the overall burden of disease has been estimated (see Section 8.4.1) (McMichael, 2004). Several countries have conducted health-impact assessments of climate change; either as part of a multi-sectoral study or as a stand-alone project (see Tables 8.1, 8.3 and 8.4). These provide more detailed information on population vulnerability to climate change (see Section 8.4.2). The effect of climate has been studied in the context of other social and environmental determinants of health outcomes (McMichael et al., 2003a; Izmerov et al., 2005). Little advancement has been made in the development of climate–health impact models that project future health effects. Climate change is now an issue of concern for health policy in many countries. Some adaptation measures specific to climate variability have been developed and implemented within and beyond the health sector (see Section 8.6). Many challenges remain for climate- and health-impact and adaptation research. The most important of these is the limited capacity for research and adaptation in low- and middle-income countries.