People may be more likely to have to fund treatment for respiratory diseases on expatriate medical insurance policies due to global warming, a new document has indicated.
The position paper, published in the Proceedings of the American Thoracic Society, stated the impacts of climate change – such as desertification, worsening levels of ozone in urban locations, higher temperatures and infectious diseases having wider ranges – is going to result in an international increase in allergies, cardiovascular or contagious illnesses and asthma.
Representatives of airway and respiratory physicians in India, Africa, Asia, Europe, the US and the Middle East helped to compile the document, which was issued so medical experts would know how to react to climate change and the potential impact it could have on patients and communities.
It also added the American Thoracic Society's voice to widespread calls for global action in order to establish a response to the negative and existing health effects of the climactic trend.
One of the examples outlined by the paper was the spread of a certain species of mould spores.
Previously, this was only found in Central America but has now reached as far north as Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada.
This has resulted in a rise in the number of people with asthma and allergies and global warming is implicated in this development.
Furthermore, Scandinavia is now experiencing infectious diseases that were previously seen in the Mediterranean, highlighting the utility of international medical insurance nowadays.
Air quality can damage the respiratory system and environmental pollution is therefore also looked at in the document.
Kent Pinkerton, professor of pediatrics at the UC Davis School of Medicine, director of the UC Davis Center for Health and the Environment, co-author of the paper and organiser of the workshop that initiated the analysis, pointed out human activity has resulted in a higher frequency of wildfires and dust storms, which has produced an increase in dust and particulate matter.
"In particular, we know that infants and young children, people with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and those who are elderly or who have compromised immune systems will have more difficulties when air quality is poorer," he explained.
If no efforts are made to prevent climate change, the world's average temperature is forecast to increase by 2.5 degrees C by the year 2100, scientists at the University of Reading and the Met Office recently predicted.