Extreme weather affects health in Kazakhstan: final results of WHO pilot project

WHO

WHO pilot project on climate change is presented

A four-year pilot project, conducted by WHO/Europe and funded by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU), found that climate change is already a reality in Kazakhstan, as more frequent and intense extreme weather events affect people’s health and the economy.

Main findings of the pilot project in Kazakhstan

There is evidence of a steady increase in average annual air temperature during recent decades and a further increase of 3.3–6.2 °C is projected by 2085. The number of days with heat-waves has risen, and these have been linked with unpredictable changes in the rainfall pattern.

Unexpected torrential rains and floods lead to increased risk of landslides and mudflows. These are the leading cause of infrastructure damage and create serious threats to health, such as injuries and infectious diseases during flooding, and respiratory and mental illness in the aftermath.

The rise in ambient temperature by 1 °C during the warm season has been associated with an over twofold increase in deaths from cerebrovascular disease and a 5.3% increase in the number of cases of “Salmonella” infection.

Increased temperatures create optimal conditions for the spread of infectious vectors ― such as ticks and rodents ― to new territories. This leads to the emergence or re-emergence of infectious diseases, and increased gastrointestinal infections, especially among women and children.

Climate change will affect some of the prerequisites for health, such as food security, water safety and air quality. Overall, crop yields in central Asia are projected to decrease by up to 30% by 2050. As the population in Kazakhstan is projected to reach 24 million in 2050 – owing to demographic growth, migration and longer life expectancy– this will create additional demand for food.