Indicator 2.2, 2018 Lancet Countdown report. 51% of global cities expect climate change to seriously compromise public health infrastructure

The Lancet Countdown: tracking progress on health and climate change is a multidisciplinary, international research collaboration that provides a global overview of the relationship between public health and climate change. Publishing its findings annually in The Lancet, the initiative generates research evidence to inform an accelerated policy response to climate change.

The Lancet Countdown 2018 report presents the work from leading academics and technical experts from 27 partner academic and United Nations institutions around the world, including the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Tehran University of Medical Sciences, University of Sydney and the World Health Organization. The study was funded by the Wellcome Trust.

Among the report’s co-authors are Delia Grace, veterinary epidemiologist and co-leader of the Animal and Human Health program at ILRI, and Paula Dominguez-Salas, assistant professor in nutrition-sensitive agriculture at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine on joint appointment at ILRI.

The Lancet Countdown initiative brings together climate scientists and geographers, mathematicians and physicists, transport and energy experts, development experts, engineers, economists, social and political scientists, and health professionals, reporting on 41 indicators across five key thematic groups:

  • climate change impacts, exposures and vulnerability;
  • adaptation planning and resilience for health;
  • mitigation actions and health co-benefits;
  • economics and finance; and
  • public and political engagement.

Below are the four key messages of the Lancet Countdown 2018 report:

  1. Present day changes in heat waves, labour capacity, vector-borne disease and food security provide early warnings of the compounded impacts on public health that are expected if temperatures continue to rise. Trends in climate change impacts, exposures and vulnerabilities show an unacceptably high level of risk for the current and future health of populations across the world.
  2. A lack of progress in reducing emissions and building adaptive capacity threatens human lives and the viability of the national health systems they depend on, with the potential to disrupt core public health infrastructure and overwhelm health services.
  3. A number of sectors have seen the beginning of a low-carbon transition; the nature and scale of the response to climate change will shape the health of nations for centuries to come.
  4. Ensuring a widespread understanding of climate change as a central public health issue will be crucial in delivering an accelerated response, with the health profession beginning to rise to this challenge.

The full text of the Lancet Countdown 2018 report is available for free via The Lancet website (you will need to create a free account with The Lancet).

The Lancet Countdown tracks progress on health and climate change and provides an independent assessment of the health effects of climate change, the implementation of the Paris Agreement and the health implications of these actions. The research evidence thus generated will help to inform decision-making and drive an accelerated policy response to climate change.

The initiative is a collaboration between 24 academic institutions and intergovernmental organizations based in every continent and with representation from a wide range of disciplines including climate scientists, ecologists, economists, social and political scientists, public health professionals and doctors.

The Lancet Countdown’s 2017 report tracks 40 indicators across five areas, arriving at three key conclusions:

  • The human symptoms of climate change are unequivocal and potentially irreversible.
  • The delayed response to climate change over the past 25 years has jeopardised human life and livelihoods.
  • The past 5 years have seen an accelerated response, and in 2017 momentum is building across several sectors.

Visit the Lancet Countdown website for a thematic breakdown of the report. The full text of the Lancet Countdown 2017 report is available for free via The Lancet website.

Among the report’s co-authors are Delia Grace, veterinary epidemiologist and co-leader of the Animal and Human Health program at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), and Paula Dominguez-Salas, postdoctoral researcher in nutrition at the Royal Veterinary College on joint appointment at ILRI.

Market near Khulungira Village, in central Malawi

Selling agricultural produce at Chimbiya Market, near Dedza in central Malawi (photo credit: ILRI/Mann).

 

On 24 May 2017, the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH) and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine hosted policymakers, researchers and donors at a workshop in Belgium under the theme Better targeting food safety investments in low- and middle-income countries.

Among the presenters were three scientists from the International Livestock Research Institute who presented on why food safety matters in development from an agri-food system perspective, the experience of food safety management in Vietnam, and economic and health outcomes and impacts of food safety interventions.

Over the course of the workshop, several major themes emerged:

  1. Collaboration and knowledge sharing among the different sectors is critical and must be encouraged.
  2. Consumers have to weigh the risks when considering what choices to make, and they need more information in order to make better decisions.
  3. The problem of lack of access to safe foods is particularly acute for small children; not only are they disproportionately affected by foodborne illnesses and deaths, but they have the least control over their own exposure to this risk.

A detailed post about the workshop is available on the A4NH website.

A new international, multidisciplinary research initiative, the Lancet Countdown, was launched yesterday (14 Nov 2016) to track and analyse the impacts of climate change on public health.

The initiative will generate new research evidence to inform decision-making and drive an accelerated policy response to climate change. It will publish its findings annually in The Lancet, the leading global medical journal.

The Lancet Countdown is a collaboration of 48 leading experts from around the world, drawn from 16 academic and research institutions including the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Tsinghua University (China), University College London and the World Health Organization. It is funded by the Wellcome Trust.

You can download the inaugural report, The Lancet Countdown: Tracking Progress on Health and Climate Change, for free via The Lancet website.

Among the report’s co-authors are Delia Grace, veterinary epidemiologist and leader of ILRI’s Food Safety and Zoonoses program, and Paula Dominguez-Salas, postdoctoral researcher in nutrition at the Royal Veterinary College on joint appointment at ILRI.

Delia Grace presents on zoonotic diseases, UNEP Nairobi, 20 May 2016
ILRI veterinary epidemiologist Delia Grace presenting at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Science-Policy Forum that preceded the second session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-2), on 20 May 2016 (photo credit: ILRI).

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) held its first global Science-Policy Forum in Nairobi, Kenya on 19-20 May 2016 as part of the overall programme of the second session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-2) held on 23-27 May 2016.

The forum offered a platform to the science community to engage with policymakers and civil society stakeholders on the science and knowledge needed to support informed decision-making to deliver on the environmental dimension of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Delia Grace, a veterinary epidemiologist at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), took part in the forum as a panellist for the launch of the UNEP Frontiers 2016 report on emerging issues of environmental concern.

Her presentation on zoonotic and emerging infectious diseases focused on the global burden of zoonotic diseases (diseases that can be transmitted between animals and people), the drivers of disease (among them, land use change, environmental degradation and climate change) and how the multidisciplinary One Health approach can be used to support timely response to the threat of zoonotic diseases.

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Zoonotic diseases are also featured in a chapter in the UNEP Frontiers 2016 report, Zoonoses: Blurred lines of emergent disease and ecosystem health by Delia Grace and ILRI colleagues Bernard Bett, Hu Suk Lee and Susan MacMillan.

Typical milk bar in Kenya

A typical milk bar in Kenya. Packaged milk in supermarkets has been found to be no better at meeting food safety standards than raw milk sold from kiosks (photo credit: ILRI/Dave Elsworth).

Kenya’s informal dairy markets are central to the livelihoods, food security and nutrition of the majority of its citizens, particularly the poor, women and children. Kenya’s informal dairy market is significant in size – 86% of Kenya’s milk is sold by unorganized, small-scale businesses in informal markets or consumed directly at home. The sector generates 70% of the 40,000 jobs in dairy marketing and processing.

The International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) has been working in partnership with the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Kenya to explore the impacts of efforts to govern Kenya’s dairy sector in a way that works with, rather than against, informal, small-scale milk vendors. We looked at the impact on milk vendors, on food safety and on sustainability, with the findings published in the final briefing in a series on innovations in policy approaches to informality.

Read the rest of the blog post, Lessons in informality from Kenya’s dairy sector, by Emma Blackmore. Originally posted on the IIED website.

Aflatoxins are highly toxic fungal by-products produced by certain strains of Aspergillus flavus in grains and other crops. Consumption of very high levels of aflatoxins can cause acute illness and death. Chronic exposure to aflatoxins is linked to liver cancer, especially where hepatitis is prevalent, and this is estimated to cause as many as 26,000 deaths annually in sub-Saharan Africa.

Aflatoxins in contaminated animal feed not only result in reduced animal productivity, but the toxins can end up in products like milk, meat and eggs, thus presenting a health risk to humans. Of these animal-source food products, milk has the greatest risk because relatively large amounts of aflatoxin are carried over and milk is consumed especially by infants.

As part of knowledge exchange on the latest research developments in the area of aflatoxins and food safety, Delia Grace and Johanna Lindahl, food safety researchers from the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), presented on aflatoxins, animal health and the safety of animal-source foods at a virtual briefing organized by the Global Donor Platform for Rural Development, a network of 37 bilateral donors, multilateral agencies and international financing institutions working to reduce poverty and achieve sustainable rural development.

Their presentation began with an overview of aflatoxins and how livestock and fish get exposed to aflatoxins. This was followed by a discussion on the impact of aflatoxins on animal health and production, how aflatoxins in crops move through the food chain to end up in animal-source foods and ways to manage the risk of aflatoxins in animals and animal-source foods.

The need for evidence-based approaches in developing standards for animal feeds was highlighted, as well as the need for risk-based regulation and legislation to provide guidelines on safety issues such as appropriate management of aflatoxin-contaminated feed.

The presentation concluded with a summary of the key messages and policy recommendations, followed by a question-and-answer session.

Watch the recording of the briefing (approx. 34 minutes)

Jump to the question-and-answer session [16:37]

More information on research on aflatoxins and food safety is available in a set of 19 research briefs published in November 2013 by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). The briefs were co-edited by Laurian Unnevehr of IFPRI and Delia Grace of ILRI.

Read more about ILRI’s research projects on aflatoxins