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7th April : Message From Secretary General, IRCS for World Health Day
Climate Change is a matter of global concern and it is emerging as a real threat to all living beings. It has been predicted that any change in temperature, humidity regime, rainfall pattern and climatic condition will have direct and indirect impacts on the health of all living beings. Directly, there will be an increase in the number of deaths due to greater frequency and severity of heat waves and other extreme weather events. Indirectly, changes in weather pattern, can lead to ecological disturbances, changes in food production levels, increase in the distribution of malaria, dengue and other vector-borne diseases.

To draw attention of people towards the new phenomena World Health Organization (WHO) has selected ‘Protecting health from Climate Change’ as theme for this year.


Some of the recent examples of extremes of weather in India include temperature exceeding 50˚C in Western region in 1994. Malaria epidemic in Surat following heavy rainfall the same year. Mumbai in Maharashtra experienced 944 mms of rainfall on July 26-27 in 2005 in which over 1000 lives were lost and property worth INR. 170 billions were destroyed. In 2006 Surat in Gujarat and Barmer in Rajasthan experienced serious floods. Droughts too have become common. Consecutive droughts between 2000 and 2002 saw 11 million people getting affected in Orissa and Rajasthan.

Indian Red Cross Society with its 700 branches and 12 million volunteers and members has been working towards improving the lives of the vulnerable people. However, the challenge of today is not only to mitigate the impacts of climate change but also to adapt to it through preparedness and protective action. This involves effective programming at institutional and community level.

The World Health Organization (WHO), Regional Office for South East Asia (SEARO) and International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has a Memorandum of Understanding for technical and other collaboration to address the public health issues. Both share similar concern for the betterment of vulnerable population.
By working together we can contribute tremendously in achieving the health based Millennium Development Goals. Let us all resolve on this World Health Day (7th April 2008) to enhance our activities by bringing out the awareness on the possible health impacts of climate change and finding solutions to withstand it.

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