Wellington– Storms like Cyclone Gabrielle will increasingly affect people’s health in New Zealand as the climate changes, said climate and health experts on Friday.
The damages caused by storms this year are a “pale version of what’s to come” if the planet continues warming, making climate action a health issue as well as an environmental one, according to an editorial for the New Zealand Medical Journal published on Friday, Xinhua News Agency reported.
The recent floods and storms affecting New Zealand are a sign of worsening extreme weather events, which bring devastating health impacts, according to the authors from the University of Auckland and the University of Otago.
These health impacts particularly affect communities who already face disadvantage such as Maori, Pacific, disabled people, low-income households and those living in poor quality housing, the authors said.
Climate pollution makes these weather events more frequent and severe, and the land use patterns make people more susceptible to their impacts, they said.
Floodwaters from Cyclone Gabrielle are causing an increase in cases of leptospirosis in Hawke’s Bay, and other heavy rains in New Zealand tend to lead to a spike in cases of gastroenteritis in children, the editorial said.
Seafood can be poisoned by silt and wastewater runoff into the sea; flooded housing can become contaminated and moldy; and the mental health impacts of storms are often hidden and underestimated, it said. (IANS)