Climate impacts on disasters, infectious diseases and nutrition

The Zika virus epidemic that emerged in northeast Brazil in 2015 occurred during an unusually warm and dry year. Both natural climate variability as well as longterm trends were responsible for the extreme temperatures observed1 and these climate conditions are likely to have contributed to the timing and scale of this devastating epidemic. Knowledge of this climate context is derived from analyses of large-scale global climate datasets and models, which provide policy-makers with broad insights into changes in hydro-meteorological extremes. However, societal response to epidemics works at multiple levels. For instance, policies and resource commitments may be developed at international and national levels, while targeted prevention and control efforts are managed at local levels by district health teams and community leaders. Adaptation to climate change also needs to be developed at multiple levels. National level information may be needed for planning, but an understanding of the local weather and climate that individuals and communities experience is also required. Once specific climate-sensitive health risks are identified, information on the past, present or future climate can be used to help mitigate risks and identify new opportunities for improved health outcomes. This information needs to be provided as a routine service if it is to support operational decision-making.