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      Health Impacts of Climate Change in the Solomon Islands: An Assessment and Adaptation Action Plan

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          Abstract

          The Pacific island countries are particularly vulnerable to the environmental changes wrought by global climate change such as sea level rise, more frequent and intense extreme weather events and increasing temperatures. The potential biophysical changes likely to affect these countries have been identified and it is important that consideration be given to the implications of these changes on the health of their citizens.

          The potential health impacts of climatic changes on the population of the Solomon Islands were assessed through the use of a Health Impact Assessment framework. The process used a collaborative and consultative approach with local experts to identify the impacts to health that could arise from local environmental changes, considered the risks associated with these and proposed appropriate potential adaptive responses. Participants included knowledgeable representatives from the biophysical, socio-economic, infrastructure, environmental diseases and food sectors.

          The risk assessments considered both the likelihood and consequences of the health impacts occurring using a qualitative process. To mitigate the adverse effects of the health impacts, an extensive range of potential adaptation strategies were developed. The overall process provided an approach that could be used for further assessments as well as an extensive range of responses which could be used by sectors and to assist future decision making associated with the Solomon Islands’ responses to climate change.

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          Comparative Risk Assessment of the Burden of Disease from Climate Change

          The World Health Organization has developed standardized comparative risk assessment methods for estimating aggregate disease burdens attributable to different risk factors. These have been applied to existing and new models for a range of climate-sensitive diseases in order to estimate the effect of global climate change on current disease burdens and likely proportional changes in the future. The comparative risk assessment approach has been used to assess the health consequences of climate change worldwide, to inform decisions on mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, and in a regional assessment of the Oceania region in the Pacific Ocean to provide more location-specific information relevant to local mitigation and adaptation decisions. The approach places climate change within the same criteria for epidemiologic assessment as other health risks and accounts for the size of the burden of climate-sensitive diseases rather than just proportional change, which highlights the importance of small proportional changes in diseases such as diarrhea and malnutrition that cause a large burden. These exercises help clarify important knowledge gaps such as a relatively poor understanding of the role of nonclimatic factors (socioeconomic and other) that may modify future climatic influences and a lack of empiric evidence and methods for quantifying more complex climate–health relationships, which consequently are often excluded from consideration. These exercises highlight the need for risk assessment frameworks that make the best use of traditional epidemiologic methods and that also fully consider the specific characteristics of climate change. These include the long-term and uncertain nature of the exposure and the effects on multiple physical and biotic systems that have the potential for diverse and widespread effects, including high-impact events.
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            Health impact assessment of global climate change: expanding on comparative risk assessment approaches for policy making.

            Climate change is projected to have adverse impacts on public health. Cobenefits may be possible from more upstream mitigation of greenhouse gases causing climate change. To help measure such cobenefits alongside averted disease-specific risks, a health impact assessment (HIA) framework can more comprehensively serve as a decision support tool. HIA also considers health equity, clearly part of the climate change problem. New choices for energy must be made carefully considering such effects as additional pressure on the world's forests through large-scale expansion of soybean and oil palm plantations, leading to forest clearing, biodiversity loss and disease emergence, expulsion of subsistence farmers, and potential increases in food prices and emissions of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. Investigators must consider the full range of policy options, supported by more comprehensive, flexible, and transparent assessment methods.
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              Health impact assessment.

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Glob J Health Sci
                Glob J Health Sci
                Global Journal of Health Science
                Canadian Center of Science and Education (Canada )
                1916-9736
                1916-9744
                September 2014
                24 June 2014
                : 6
                : 5
                : 261-273
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Public Health WHO Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health Impact assessment, Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Jeff T Spickett, School of Public Health, Curtin University, Kent Street, Bentley, Western Australia 6102, Australia. Tel: 61-892-662-763. E-mail: J.Spickett@ 123456curtin.edu.au
                Article
                GJHS-6-261
                10.5539/gjhs.v6n5p261
                4825488
                25168977
                c778d763-2ba5-4039-b904-4dca2710cfdb
                Copyright: © Canadian Center of Science and Education

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution license ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/).

                History
                : 18 November 2013
                : 24 December 2013
                Categories
                Articles

                climate change,health impact assessment,adaptation,the solomon islands

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