We know about the effect of climate change for melting ice caps and shrinking shore lines, and now we can add disease to the list of dangers. In a lecture sponsored by the Global Health Affairs Certificate at the Josef Korbel School, Dr. Andrew Price-Smith laid out the intersection between climate change and health.
“When you crank up temperatures, the burden of disease is going to increase,” said Price-Smith. Working through recent studies on the effect of climate change on major diseases like malaria and cholera, Price-Smith outlined the implications of rising global temperatures on the growth of at-risk populations.
Other diseases, instead of growing, may simply be shifting, as some areas of the world grow drier. On the whole, however, the global poor will be disproportionately affected by an increased burden of disease, according to Price-Smith.
“In the poorest countries, that’s where you’re likely to see these effects most pronounced,” he said. In turn, he argued that disease could be a stress on state capacity.
But the public health implications provide some low-hanging fruit for interventions. Generally, public health investments are cheaper and more politically viable than grand treaties on climate change.
“Investing in global public health has a bigger bang for your buck than investing in slowing down climate change,” said Price-Smith. The long term investment in primary health care and resilient healthcare systems can at least help countries to prepare for the possibility of changing disease patterns, he argued.
Tenured at Colorado College, Dr. Price-Smith looks forward to many more opportunities to set aside our DU-CC hockey differences and work with Josef Korbel School students.
- Sarah Crozier, MA Candidate, International Development
Josef Korbel School of International Studies