Government to invest in researching climate change’s impact on public health

New government funding will be invested in researching how climate change could impact people’s health

The government is pouring £56m into research that will explore the potential health effects of climate change, air pollution, antimicrobial resistance and global pandemics.

Nicola Blackwood, the health minister, made the announcement earlier this week.

Climate change leads to more extremes of hot and cold weather, which can have a serious impact on the health of the nation. Additionally, pollution can cause chronic conditions such as cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, as well as lung cancer, leading to reduced life expectancy.

Universities in England are being invited to apply to be selected to partner with Public Health England (PHE) to form the next wave of Health Protection Research Units (HPRUs) funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

An open competition will be held to select the most promising research proposals from academics. They will be funded from April 2020 to March 2025.

The current HPRUs played a central role in responding to major events including the Novichok, Ebola and overseas terror incidents.

Blackwood said: “From the eradication of smallpox, record low smoking rates and ever-increasing life expectancy, the UK’s public health record is a roll call of successes which have saved the lives of millions.

“Air pollution can have a devastating impact on our health and is a key issue that we need to tackle through research. We’ve just seen the warmest February day on record and we have a duty to the public to consider the health challenges climate change brings.

“All of our successes to date would have been impossible without world-leading research conducted by some of the best minds at outstanding research hubs up and down the country.

“This new investment, as part of our Long Term Plan for the NHS, will unlock further solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing the health and care system over the next five years, aiming to drastically improve all of our lives.”

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