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UN maps to give early warnings on disease

Two UN agencies have mapped the intersection of health and climate in an age of global warming, showing that there are increases in meningitis when dust storms hit and outbreaks of dengue fever when hard rains come.

GENEVA // Two UN agencies have mapped the intersection of health and climate in an age of global warming, showing that there are increases in meningitis when dust storms hit and outbreaks of dengue fever when hard rains come.

Officials said that their "Atlas of Health and Climate" is meant to be a tool for leaders to use to get early warning of disease.

Though the data or conclusions aren't necessarily new, the way they are presented may sharpen governments' ability to respond to the threats posed by rising temperatures and changing climate.

The joint project of the World Health Organisation and World Meteorological Organisation says the likelihood of increasingly frequent heatwaves hitting the planet will be four to 10 times as often by 2050 - and they will probably most affect the vulnerable populations of ageing and urban people particularly in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

"Many diseases including malaria, dengue, meningitis - just a few examples - these are what we call climate-sensitive diseases, because such climate dimensions for rainfall, humidity and temperature would influence the epidemics, the outbreaks, either directly influencing the parasites or the mosquitoes that carry them," Dr Margaret Chan, the director general of the UN health agency, said this week.

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