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Climate Change Is Biggest Global Health Threat To Children, Report Says

According to a report (.pdf) by Save the Children, climate change is the biggest global health threat to children in the 21st century, the Hindu reports. Save the Children says that climate change will “exacerbate the leading causes of death among children, including diarrhoea, malnutrition and malaria. Diarrhoea, which kills one million children every year, is set to increase by 10 percent by 2020. Malnutrition, which affects 178 million children and causes 3.2 million child deaths each year, will affect 25 million more children by 2050. And malaria, responsible for one million child deaths a year, will affect up to 320 million more by 2080.” 

In addition, Save the Children “predicts that 175 million children a year will be affected” by an increase in natural disasters over the next decade. “Floods, cyclones and droughts will hit children hardest, as they get worse with climate change” (11/5). 

Midge Ure, a Save the Children ambassador, said he has witnessed the deaths of children in East African countries because of droughts, the Telegraph writes. “Erratic rainfall means farmers can no longer predict the weather and have lost their crops which are a vital source of food for their family,” Ure said. David Mepham, the organization’s director of policy, called for world leaders to come to an agreement on climate change at the U.N. climate change conference in Copenhagen next month (Gray, 11/2). 

To mitigate the effects of climate change, the report “calls on governments to strengthen health, water and sanitation systems in the poorest countries … Developing countries must also draw up plans for climate change adaptation that include the particular needs of children,” according to a Save the Children press release (11/5).