As the world is grappling with the challenges of climate change, new concern is on a growing body of evidence which suggests that children are being disproportionately affected by the crisis. From respiratory problems to mental health issues, the impact of climate change on children’s health is far-reaching and devastating.

In India alone, over 300 million children are at risk of being affected by climate change, according to UNICEF (2020).

In 2018, extreme weather events in India affected over 10 million children, with many displaced or injured as reported by Save the Children.

According to various reports and studies, India is highly vulnerable to climate change, and its impact on children’s health and well-being is significant.

Indian Institute of Technology pose it that, climate-related disasters in the country, such as floods and droughts, impact an estimated 2 million children every year.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 93% of children worldwide under the age of 15 breathe polluted air, resulting in 600,000 deaths annually.

In New Delhi, India, air pollution levels are so severe that schools have been forced to shut down, and children are required to wear masks to protect themselves from toxic air.

“Climate change is a crisis for children’s health… It’s a crisis that is unfolding in slow motion, but one that requires urgent action.” – Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director.

Rising temperatures are leading to increased cases of heat stress, particularly among children participating in outdoor activities.

In the United States, heat-related illnesses have risen by 34% since 2000, with children under 18 accounting for over 50% of cases.

Climate change is expanding the range of disease-carrying insects like mosquitoes and ticks, putting children at risk of contracting diseases like malaria, dengue fever, and Lyme disease.

“Children are the most vulnerable to the health impacts of climate change… We must prioritize their health and well-being in our response to this crisis”, Dr. Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum, Climate Change and Health Program, WHO said.

In Brazil, cases of dengue fever have increased by 600% since 2000, with children under 14 accounting for over 70% of cases.

The trauma and displacement caused by extreme weather events are taking a toll on children’s mental health.

“The impact of climate change on children’s health is one of the most pressing issues of our time… We need to act now to protect the future of our children,” said Tedros Adhanom.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, a study found that 30% of children in Puerto Rico exhibited symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

As the evidence mounts, health experts and policymakers are urging governments and individuals to take immediate action to address the crisis. “We must prioritize the health and well-being of our children,” said Dr. Maria Neira, Director of the WHO’s Department of Public Health and Environment. “The future of our planet depends on it.”

Research have shown that, climate change is responsible for an estimated 150,000 deaths among children under the age of 5 each year.

Warmer temperatures are increasing the spread of diseases such as malaria, diarrhea, and pneumonia, which are leading causes of child mortality.

Air pollution from fossil fuels is linked to respiratory problems, asthma, and other respiratory diseases in children.

Extreme weather events, such as hurricanes and droughts, are displacing families and disrupting access to healthcare, clean water, and sanitation.

Above all this, children are more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change due to their developing physiology and immune systems.

The window for action is rapidly closing, and the fate of millions of children hangs in the balance.

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