April 3, 2008 / 12:14 AM / 11 years ago

Doctors say global warming may bring malaria to Britain

A worker sprays pesticide in the public area of a condo in Singapore in a file photo. REUTERS/Joachim Hermann

LONDON (Reuters) - Climate change could bring malaria and other diseases to Britain and trigger more frequent heatwaves that will have huge health impacts, doctors said on Thursday.

With the exception of Lyme disease, insect-borne diseases are largely unknown in Britain. But global warming could change that in a few decades, according to a report from the British Medical Association (BMA).

“Higher temperatures and heavier rainfall may increase the spread of infections like malaria that have previously been virtually non-existent in the UK,” the organisation’s Head of Science and Ethics, Dr Vivienne Nathanson, said.

Hotter weather also poses a significant risk of an increase in skin cancers, sunburn and sunstroke.

The BMA said the state-run National Health Service needed to invest in prevention and treatment for serious health implications relating to climate change.

Around the world, scientists believe climate change could have potentially devastating consequences for human health.

A major study of the global risks by Tony McMichael of Australia’s Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health concluded in January that climate change posed a more fundamental threat to health than the economy.

McMichael predicted that between 20 million and 70 million more people were likely to be living in malarial regions worldwide by 2080.

Reporting by Ben Hirschler; Editing by Janet Lawrence

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