Delays in Reducing Waterborne and Water-Related Infectious Diseases in China Under Climate Change

Faculty member in Population Biology, Ecology and Evolution, Dr. Justin V. Remais, is featured the latest edition of Nature Climate Change. Remais and his team found that climate change will blunt China's efforts at reducing waterborne and water-related infectious diseases in the decades to come and that by 2030, changes to the global climate could delay China's progress in this area by up to seven years. That is, even as China continues to invest in water and sanitation infrastructure, and experience rapid urbanization and social development, the benefits of these advances will be slowed in the presence of climate change.

Using data drawn from multiple infectious disease surveillance systems in China, the study provides the first estimates of the burden of disease due to unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene in a rapidly developing society that is subjected to a changing climate.

“Our results demonstrate how climate change can lead to a significant health burden, even in settings where the total burden of disease is falling owing to social and economic development,” says Remais. “Delays in development are especially concerning for China, which is investing heavily in improving health even as the impact of those investments is being countered by the effect of climate change.”

The study, 'Delays in reducing waterborne and water-related infectious diseases in China under climate change,' was supported in part by the Emory Global Health Institute.   

Click here to read the full article in Nature Climate Change.