The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has warned that the next pandemic is likely to be driven by climate change. The agency has published a 10-year strategy to address the impacts of rising global temperatures on human health. The strategy highlights the exacerbation of over 200 infectious diseases and non-transmissible conditions due to climate change. It also points out the increased risk of insect-borne diseases being pushed out of the tropics, the impact of severe drought on animal and human populations, and the direct effects of flooding on public health. The UKHSA plans to lead the UK’s efforts to tackle urgent health challenges, emphasizing the need for global collaboration in the face of shared threats.
The agency has established a new Centre for Climate and Health Security to research and plan against the impact of global warming on human health. The strategy aims to build capability across various health security scenarios, from new pathogens to radiological incidents. The UKHSA’s successes in genomic surveillance, vaccine development, and data analysis during the Covid pandemic will serve as a foundation for future efforts. The agency’s chief scientific adviser, Professor Isabel Oliver, stressed the importance of science in understanding and responding to health threats, while the chief executive, Professor Dame Jenny Harries, highlighted the agency’s diverse scientific capabilities and its commitment to protecting the public from health threats. Health minister, Maria Caulfield, emphasized the role of cutting-edge science in protecting people from potential future health threats and reducing pressure on healthcare services.