A report cautions that severe weather events have the potential to cause one out of every twelve hospitals worldwide to close.
A recent report cautions that without a swift transition away from fossil fuels, approximately one out of every 12 hospitals globally may face complete or partial closure due to severe weather conditions.
According to a recent report from Cross Dependency Initiative (XDI), a climate risk analyst, the number of hospitals at high risk will double to 16,245 by the end of the century if no changes are made. This number is currently twice as many as those at high risk. The report also states that buildings with this level of risk, whether residential or commercial, would be deemed uninsurable.
The report will be released prior to the Cop28 UN climate conference in Dubai, coinciding with health day. During the conference, countries will address strategies for addressing the health consequences of climate change, such as the spread of illnesses and the impact of severe weather conditions.
According to Dr Karl Mallon, the director of science and technology at XDI, climate change is having a growing impact on the well-being of individuals worldwide. He also raises the concern of potential hospital closures due to severe weather events. The analysis conducted by XDI suggests that unless there is a swift transition away from fossil fuels, the threat to global health will worsen, with numerous hospitals unable to provide necessary care during emergencies.
While some hospitals may be able to withstand and respond to severe weather events like hurricanes, storms, floods, and fires, many will require relocation at a significant cost.
The consequences of climate change will primarily impact countries with lower and middle income, with 71% (11,512) of at-risk hospitals located in these areas by the end of the century. Currently, the region of south-east Asia has the most hospitals at risk of damage from extreme weather events. This risk will continue in the future, as high emissions could potentially result in the closure of nearly one in five hospitals (18.4%) in the region by the end of the century.
Director of the Centre for Sustainable Medicine at the National University of Singapore, Prof Nick Watts, stated that climate change poses a significant threat to the stability of our health systems, upon which our patients and communities rely. The potential consequences, such as the closure of health facilities or the overwhelming burden of disease on clinics, would have severe impacts on human well-being.
XDI has published the names and locations of hospitals that are in danger, and is urging governments to inspect hospitals in their respective areas in order to safeguard them.
Mallon stated that it is the responsibility of governments to guarantee the continuous provision of essential services for their people. Neglecting to act upon this information or lacking support from the international community displays a clear disregard for the welfare of citizens.