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Global Warming Could Delay Chinese Efforts to Maintain Public Health

Update Date: Nov 21, 2014 01:53 PM EST

China's efforts to make the country diease free would be thwarted by climate change, a new study claims.

Though China has made significant progress in improving access to tap water and improved sanitation in recent years, climate change by 2030 would delay the country's progress made in reducing diarrheal and vector borne diseases, the study claims. Researchers found that growing global temperatures are to blame after accounting for the country's heavy investment in sanitation and public health, its migrating population and the growth of its general population.

The study used temperature sensitivity of diarrheal diseases and three vector borne diseases to determine changes by 2030 through global models for climate change.

"Our results demonstrate how climate change can lead to a significant health burden, even in settings where the total burden of disease is falling owing to social and economic development. Delays in development are especially concerning for China, which is investing heavily in improving health even as the impact of those investments is being countered by the effect of climate change," says Justin V Remais, associated professor at Emory University, in a press release.

"By 2030, climate change is projected to delay China's rapid progress towards reducing WSH-attributable infectious disease burden by 8-85 months," researchers wrote.

Research team included experts from University of Florida, the University of Colorado, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Researchers have also pointed out that the delay can be shortened if China ramps its investment in sanitation or if major global greenhouse gas emitters reduce emissions.

"Our findings show that there are clear ways that China, and the global community, can limit these health effects of climate change, both by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and by investing in health through water and sanitation improvements," Remais said.

"Even societies experiencing rapid improvements will be impacted by climate change, and our study highlights how delays in development come at a large cost, and can be avoided if we act now to reduce emissions of climate-changing greenhouse gases."

The findings have been published in Nature Climate Change

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