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From The CriticsReviewer: Jeanne B Hewitt, PhD, RN (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee)
Description: This book links climate changes with public health consequences (i.e., infectious diseases and the human health effects associated with extreme weather events), with the goal of advancing seasonal forecasts and the implementation of surveillance systems to predict (and control) climate-sensitive outcomes. It also outlines some scientific, policy-making, and technology-related opportunities and challenges.
Purpose: As a report on an international conference on seasonal climate forecasting as it relates to health, the book provides examples of the way in which climate change effects allergen-induced health problems, health outcomes related to weather extremes, vector-borne diseases, and policy and adaptation. It contributes to the dialogue between climate and public health scientists and the book largely meets the authors' objectives, although more details on public health policies and other interventions would have been welcome.
Audience: It appears to be written for policy makers and public health leaders to alert them to the effect of climate change and weather on human health. The chapter authors are recognized authorities in their respective fields.
Features: The book summarizes climate change trends and the challenges of forecasting long-range changes; the effect of new and changing climate conditions on weather, including rainfall/drought, and in turn, an increased risk associated with sequelae of temperature and weather extremes; water- and vector-borne diseases such as malaria; and airborne allergens. Chapter 3 is an outstanding, in-depth review of infectious diseases and their relationship to climate change. In particular, table 3.1 is a very useful tool for understanding the global impact of climate change on human health, presenting a compilation of pathogenic organisms and their vectors, climate conditions, and countries affected by them, as well as references by countries where these infections are well documented. The appendixes compile color plates that may serve as baseline weather-related data. The report provides an initial discussion of the implications of climate change on human health, but would benefit from more in-depth discussion of public health interventions, including policy-making.
Assessment: This is a valuable contribution to the dialogue between experts in climate change and public health especially related to climate-induced changes in infectious disease patterns and the ability to anticipate and minimize the adverse health consequences of weather-related events. From a public health perspective, chapter 3 is an outstanding synthesis of the global impact of climate-affected infectious diseases.