One in 12 hospitals globally face climate risks, India tops: Study

South East Asia has the highest percentage of hospitals at high risk of damage from extreme weather events in the world.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani during the COP28 Summit in UAE on Friday | pti
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani during the COP28 Summit in UAE on Friday | pti

DUBAI: On the eve of COP28 Health Day, a new study on Saturday from London said one in 12 hospitals worldwide will be at high risk of total or partial shutdown from extreme weather events by the end of the century, which is a total of 16,245 hospitals. Among all the countries, India tops with over 5,000 hospitals at risk.

Ironically, as this paper reported earlier, India is not engaging in health talks at COP28 and didn’t sign the Declaration on Climate and Health released on Saturday. A total of 124 countries signed the declaration, according to an official document.

The health declaration helps countries scale up and mobilise investments in climate and health from domestic budgets, multilateral development banks, multilateral climate funds, health financing institutions, philanthropies, bilateral development agencies, and private sector actors.

“Also, encourage global finance providers, including development banks, to strengthen the synergies between their climate and health portfolios, and enhance their support for country-led projects and programs in the health-climate nexus. Not participating in these engagements, India is telling the world that the health of its citizens is not a priority,” a COP28 observer told this paper.

In the press conference on Saturday, COP28 Director-General Majid Al Suwaidi said for the first time a health day was being observed at the UNFCCC climate summit and “we will see new announcements on health climate finance programmes from countries. United action to scale and get ahead of disasters will be the focus.” Unfortunately, India will not be part of this engagement.

Meanwhile, the hospital study was done by a climate risk analysis organisation XDI that evaluated how continued emissions would affect flooding, sea-level rise, fire risk and storms at the locations of 200,000 hospitals.

In India, the proportion of hospitals at high risk of being shut down by extreme weather events would be 5.7% by 2050 and would affect almost 1 in 10 (9.6%) hospitals by the end of the century if emissions are high. India would be the country with, by far, the most hospitals at risk of damage from extreme weather events by 2100, with 5,120 hospitals at high risk. The number of hospitals analysed in India was 53,473, the highest among the 50 countries included in the study. Russia, with 13,596 hospitals, was the second, according to the report.

“Our analysis shows that without a rapid phase-out of fossil fuels, the risks to global health will be exacerbated further, as thousands of hospitals become unable to deliver services during crises,” said Dr Karl Mallon, Director of Science and Technology, XDI (Cross Dependency Initiative).

Of the 16,245 hospitals identified as high-risk, 71% (11,512) of them are in low and middle-income countries. Limiting global warming to 1.8 degrees Celsius with a rapid phase-out of fossil fuels would halve the damage risk to hospital infrastructure compared to a high emissions scenario. If emissions are high, the risk of damage to hospitals around the world from extreme weather will increase more than four-fold (311%) by the end of the century. In a low emissions scenario, this increase in risk is reduced to just 106%, the report said.

South East Asia has the highest percentage of hospitals at high risk of damage from extreme weather events in the world. With high emissions, almost 1 in 5 hospitals (18.4%) in South East Asia will be at high risk of total or partial shutdown by end of the century. Hospitals located on coastlines and near rivers are most at risk. Today, riverine and surface water flooding dominates the risk of damage to hospitals.

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