Impact of climate change on public health in Pakistan: An alarming situation

In the face of rising temperatures and the relentless impacts of climate change, Pakistan is at the forefront of a crisis that demands our immediate attention. Heatwaves, fueled by global climate challenges, pose a serious threat to public health, requiring urgent collective action. As a developing nation, Pakistan is grappling with severe consequences, as vividly illustrated by the recent catastrophic flooding during the monsoon season. Despite contributing minimally to global greenhouse gas emissions, the nation bears a disproportionate burden.

The main culprit, the buildup of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere, worsens existing challenges, including inadequate sewage systems, rampant air pollution, and escalating deforestation. This vulnerability has led to a dire health crisis, particularly affecting already vulnerable populations. Climate change, once seen as a distant threat, is now an imminent danger that needs immediate attention. This blog sets out to explore the intersection of climate change and healthcare, emphasizing the urgent need for comprehensive and immediate measures.

“The health of our environment and the health of our population are inextricably linked.”

To understand the gravity of the situation in Pakistan, let’s look at some statistics. Rising temperatures in 2022 exceeded 122°F (50°C), intensifying monsoon rains and causing widespread flooding that affected almost two-thirds of the country’s districts. This resulted in over 1,300 fatalities, displaced 1.2 million households, and affected more than 33 million people, constituting 15% of the total population. Approximately 6.4 million individuals urgently require humanitarian aid, with infectious diseases like diarrhea, skin infections, and eye ailments rampant in relief camps. Notably, the Global Climate Risk Index designates Pakistan as one of the world’s most vulnerable countries to global warming and extreme weather events, despite contributing less than 1% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

“Global challenges demand global solutions, and the time for meaningful climate action is now.”

Understanding the critical connection between climate change and healthcare services is essential. The strain on healthcare facilities demands a robust response to ensure the well-being of communities.

The multifaceted impact of climate change on Pakistan unfolds through severe consequences such as recurrent flooding, melting glaciers, inadequate sewage systems, air pollution, and deforestation. This has resulted in a health crisis, affecting millions, with challenges like malnutrition, compromised access to healthcare for pregnant women, and damaged health facilities exacerbating the situation. Pakistan’s resource constraints pose formidable obstacles to proactive climate change mitigation measures.

“Access to clean water is not just a basic right; it’s a fundamental element of climate resilience and public health.”

To address the crisis, urgent financial support is imperative, requiring intervention from wealthier nations and international organizations. This assistance is vital for Pakistan to construct climate-resilient infrastructure and implement mechanisms capable of mitigating the adverse effects of global warming. A clarion call is extended to wealthy and developed nations, urging them to provide both financial and technical support for Pakistan’s development and implementation of strategies to combat climate change.

Drawing inspiration from successful polio eradication efforts, the blog emphasizes the indispensable role of over 350,000 health workers in facing health crises intensified by climate change. It stresses the shared responsibility of legislative action and societal commitment to protect those who protect us. UNICEF’s initiatives in education and water, sanitation, and hygiene efforts are explored, emphasizing their pivotal role in building resilience and supporting communities facing climate-related challenges. The global youth movement is spotlighted as a catalyst for positive change in addressing climate challenges. Global collaboration is emphasized as essential for providing requisite support and resources to nations like Pakistan.

“Together, we can be the architects of a resilient Pakistan, standing strong in the face of a changing climate.”

The situation underscores the necessity of long-term planning to address sustained chronic heat exposure and climate-related challenges. A multi-pronged approach, coordination among stakeholders, and global action to limit global heating are highlighted. Individual actions are portrayed as powerful agents for positive change, with a call to embrace sustainable practices and champion initiatives for resilience. The interconnectedness of factors such as human resources, legislation, education, and long-term planning are considered essential, empowering readers to actively shape a healthier, more resilient future for Pakistan.

The blog serves as a call to action, a tool for transformation, and a guide for meaningful contributions to climate change solutions. In conclusion, the exigency of urgent action and international cooperation becomes abundantly clear. Pakistan is not only dealing with the aftermath of recent devastating floods but also contending with the intersection of climate change. As the nation fights against the unprecedented health burden, international support is not just a suggestion but an imperative. The world must unite to ensure that Pakistan, with its 240 million inhabitants, does not become a tragic precursor to similar crises in other parts of the globe.

“Individual actions, when multiplied, have the power to create significant positive change for our planet and our communities.”

Muhammad Jawaad Nasir Malik

Muhammad Jawaad Nasir Malik, a PhD scholar of Superior University. Being a Government Employee, am passionately unraveling the intricate relationship between climate change, heatwaves, and public health in Pakistan. I am pursuing my research with a view to contribute meaningfully in public awareness measures and proffering actionable policy directives to legislative for implementation.