Potential impacts of global warming on medication storage and human health

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    The objective of this paper is to examine the potential impacts of global warming on medications and human health. It focusses on changes in near surface air temperature, examined via climate modelling, that may put adequate medication storage at risk. Of particular concern is the maintenance of the vaccine cold chain, which, even under current climatic conditions, is problematic in both developing and developed countries. Global warming has the potential to both reduce and increase the ability to maintain the vaccine cold chain resulting from a reduction in areas experiencing :5:0°C, and an increase in areas experiencing ~8°C, and this would have impacts on the efficacy of immunisation programs. Adequate storage of medications required to be below 25° C or 30°C will become more problematic as there is a northward shift of these isotherms in the Northern Hemisphere, and a southward shift in the Southern Hemisphere. A number of adaptive strategies are outlined, including raising awareness of the impacts of climate on medications among both health care professionals and the public. This should modify behavior and therefore reduce the risks of such adverse impacts. Other adaptive strategies include development of more thermostable medications and of more distinctive storage markings and information on packaging. There is also a need for improved reporting and surveillance of adverse drug reactions.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)369-384
    Number of pages16
    JournalWorld resource review
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2002


    • climate change
    • human health
    • medications
    • storage
    • vaccine


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