Spain recognizes in a plan that environmental degradation has more and more impacts on health

More and more evidence is accumulating on how environmental degradation and the climate crisis damage people’s health. From the impacts at first glance such as the pollution of the air we breathe, to the spread of infectious diseases transmitted by invasive species that settle favored by the new conditions created by the alteration of the climate. Also the destruction of ecosystems is behind the emergence of new global pathologies such as COVID-19.

The tiger mosquito, transmitter of serious diseases, doubles its presence in Spain in five years

The tiger mosquito, transmitter of serious diseases, doubles its presence in Spain in five years

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The Ministries of Health and Ecological Transition have come together in a plan that, they assure, will serve to identify and recognize “emerging problems” while allowing “protecting and reducing exposure to environmental risks.” They have called it the Strategic Health and Environment Plan presented this Wednesday.

The protocols it houses have a task ahead of them. They must activate risk indicators and action measures for extreme meteorological phenomena such as heat waves – the deadliest impact of climate change in Europe – but also floods derived from the new pattern of rarer and more violent rainfall at the same time. Also exceeding the air quality limits or level of suspended particles. Air pollution has already demonstrated its direct aggression on health and is quantified in some 30,000 premature deaths a year in Spain, according to the European Environment Agency.

Pollution is also largely based on greenhouse gases that cause the planet to overheat. The climate crisis is leaving a string of damage to health. The annual report Lancet Countdown is realizing how this global phenomenon already affects to all countries, regardless of your position or wealth, deteriorates minors with lifelong sequelae or is already impacting the mental health of the citizen. In addition, vectors such as invasive mosquitoes, hitherto foreign to places like Spain, have become established and allow the spread of pathologies such as dengue.

The plan will focus on ensuring that there is access to safe drinking water –the poor condition of water bodies due to diffuse pollution is an almost structural problem in Spain– or exposure to noise or chemical residues.

Strong evidence of how the environmental factor influences human health has come with the outbreak of COVID-19. The pandemic has illustrated how the destruction of habitats by human activities, which is causing a massive extinction of species, is behind the origin and spread of infectious diseases that affect people. The 75% of new human diseases emerged in the last 40 years they have their origin in animals, calculates the World Health Organization (WHO). The SARS-CoV-2 virus is one of them. In fact, two-thirds of all types of pathogens that infect people are zoonotic, that is, they jump from an animal to a human.

The vice president of Ecological Transition, Teresa Ribera, thinks that this plan will allow “to face the climatic and environmental emergency situation that we are experiencing with an eye also to public health.”


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