IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007
Climate Change 2007: Working Group II: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability

8.4.1 Projections of climate-change-related health impacts

Projections of climate-change-related health impacts use different approaches to classify the risk of climate-sensitive health determinants and outcomes. For malaria and dengue, results from projections are commonly presented as maps of potential shifts in distribution. Health-impact models are typically based on climatic constraints on the development of the vector and/or parasite, and include limited population projections and non-climate assumptions. However, there are important differences between disease risk (on the basis of climatic and entomological considerations) and experienced morbidity and mortality. Although large portions of Europe and the USA may be at potential risk for malaria based on the distribution of competent disease vectors, locally acquired cases have been virtually eliminated, in part due to vector- and disease-control activities. Projections for other health outcomes often estimate populations-at-risk or person-months at risk.

Economic scenarios cannot be directly related to disease burdens because the relationships between gross domestic product (GDP) and burdens of climate-sensitive diseases are confounded by social, environmental and climate factors (Arnell et al., 2004; van Lieshout et al., 2004; Pitcher et al., 2007). The assumption that increasing per capita income will improve population health ignores the fact that health is determined by factors other than income alone; that good population health in itself is a critical input into economic growth and long-term economic development; and that persistent challenges to development are a reality in many countries, with continuing high burdens from relatively easy-to-control diseases (Goklany, 2002; Pitcher et al., 2007).