The climate crisis is the biggest threat to the future of global health in the next quarter of a century, according to a survey of top medical professionals.
The vast majority of members of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, some of whom are responsible for significant discoveries in tropical diseases affecting the poorest countries, believe that governments and health authorities are not adequately preparing for the medical impacts of global warming .
They also expressed concern that "disinformation and anti-science" posed a dangerous threat to the future of health care.
Mass migration, new and emerging diseases and the impact on health and nutrition of climate-devastated food supplies were among the main concerns of members of the Royal Society when asked to foresee challenges of global health over the next 25 years.
The climatic emergency will also worsen existing problems, the report found, with the increase in temperature and sea levels leading to "a greater incidence of infectious diseases and related to the toxins present in the water, such as cholera poisoning and crustaceans". The study – entitled "What does the next 25 years hold for global health?" – offered a snapshot of the opinion at a time of political uncertainty and growing inequality, the company said.
Drug resistance and emerging epidemics came in second and third respectively among the main concerns identified by members of the society interviewed on six continents. About 87% stated that governments are not investing enough to address all the major health challenges at this time.
However, despite these problems, 53% of members remained optimistic about the future of global health care. About 67% believed that polio would be eradicated and 56% predicted that the guinea pig would disappear by 2025.
Tamar Ghosh, managing director of the Royal Society, said: "There is no doubt that we are facing multiple and serious health challenges, but it is easy to forget that we have made enormous progress over the past 25 years and we have the opportunity to seize still other great leaps forward in the next quarter century. "
The technology had improved health systems, according to 97% of respondents, while two-thirds thought that a new society would emerge and break the way health care was delivered.
Members predict that the next 25 years will lead to an increase in non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and cancer. An increase in drug-resistant diseases, sexually transmitted infections and emerging infectious diseases has also been planned.
The Royal Society interviewed more than 600 classmates, members and the largest tropical health community in 79 countries. He launched the report at the European Congress of Tropical Medicine and International Health, held in Liverpool this week.