Climate Change

Droughts, floods, newly emerging pathogens: the effects of climate change are manifold. Swiss TPH experts study the health impact of climate change in various regions in Africa and Europe. They assess the influences of heat waves on mortality, monitor the spread of the tiger mosquito in the southern part of Switzerland or establish risk profiles of African communities affected by heavy flooding with a particular attention to vulnerability of water and sanitation systems.

Considerable Health Consequences due to Climate Change

Climate change is expected to negatively impact health and wellbeing in all countries of the world. It is estimated that by 2050, 6 billion people will be at risk of one or several of the ‘big 7’ climate-related diseases: malaria, haemorrhagic fevers, schistosomiasis, human African trypanosomiasis, Chagas disease, leishmaniasis and onchocerciasis. Swiss TPH applies interdisciplinary research linking climate science, disease trend forecasting, mitigation and adaptation strategies. Better protection of the most vulnerable populations requires collaboration among several research groups and partners in Switzerland and all over the world.

Kaédi in Mauritania has been afflicted with heavy floods during the last years.
The Lotus River in Cape Town might account for diarrhoeal diseases of people living nearby.
Swiss TPH studies the health impact of heat waves.

Adaptation to Climate Change in West Africa

Swiss TPH experts deployed an eco-health approach to analyse people's adaption to climate change in four secondary cities in West Africa. The first phase of the project analysed particularly the vulnerabilities of water and sanitation systems as well as water related diseases. The second phase is focussig on the people's abilities to cope with malaria and bilharzia infections on the fringes of the Sahelian belt. Heavy rains and floods, associated with climate change, have drastically increased in West Africa over the last decades. Floods might contaminate drinking water sources with faecal pathogens, and stagnant water is an ideal breeding ground for disease transmitting mosquitoes.

Water Quality & Diarrhoeal Diseases in Cape Town

Diarrhoea accounts for 16% of deaths of children under 5 years in South Africa. A Swiss TPH project identifies the sources and levels of contamination of the Lotus River system in Cape Town. Health specialists assess the self-reported prevalence of childhood diarrhoea among the population living near the river and identify health related risk behaviour at household and community levels. The ultimate aim of the study is to recommend control measures to prevent diarrhoeal diseases.

Evaluation of Heat Wave Related Mortality in Switzerland

Swiss TPH epidemiologist analyse national data to assess the effect of heat waves on mortality in Switzerland. They evaluate the impact of the preventive measures adopted by various cantons on heat-wave related mortality and identify those groups most at risk. The heat wave of 2003 in Switzerland was unprecedented in terms of high numbers of deaths among the Swiss population. It led the government to issue a large-scale information campaign and recommendations that have been implemented by various cantons and health authorities ever since.

Link to Project


Swiss-South African Professorship on Global Environmental Health