A new report from the Cross Dependency Initiative (XDI), a climate risk analyst, warns that one in 12 hospitals globally is at risk of total or partial shutdown due to extreme weather events unless there is a rapid phase-out of fossil fuels.
The report, released before Health Day at the COP28 UN climate conference in Dubai, highlights the urgent need for countries to address the health impacts of climate breakdown, including the potential closure of thousands of hospitals.
Hospitals at Risk of Closure by 2100
According to the report, 16,245 hospitals, double the current number at high risk, could face shutdown by the end of the century without a change in pace.
The XDI report emphasizes that buildings with this level of risk would be considered uninsurable in a residential or commercial context.
The risks associated with climate change, such as the spread of diseases and extreme weather events, are increasingly impacting global health.
Dr. Karl Mallon, Director of Science and Technology at XDI, highlights the severity of the situation, stating, “What happens when severe weather results in hospital shutdowns as well? Our analysis shows that without a rapid phase-out of fossil fuels, the risks to global health will be exacerbated further, as thousands of hospitals become unable to deliver services during crises.”
While some hospitals can be adapted to withstand extreme weather events like hurricanes, storms, floods, and forest fires, many will require relocation at significant expense.
This issue is particularly acute for lower- and middle-income countries, with 71% (11,512) of the hospitals at risk located in these regions.
The report reveals that Southeast Asia currently faces the highest percentage of hospitals at increased risk of damage from extreme weather events.
Without intervention, nearly one in five hospitals (18.4%) in the region could face total or partial shutdown due to high emissions by the end of the century.
XDI Urges to Protect Hospitals Amid Climate Threat
XDI has released the locations and names of all hospitals at risk, urging governments to take immediate action to protect these critical healthcare facilities.
Dr. Mallon emphasizes the responsibility governments hold in ensuring the ongoing delivery of essential services, stating, “For individual governments not to take action on this information, or for the global community not to support governments in need, is a blatant disregard for the wellbeing of their citizens.”
The XDI report is a stark reminder of the urgent need to address the intersection of climate change and healthcare infrastructure.
As the world grapples with the ongoing impacts of climate breakdown, prioritizing the resilience and adaptation of hospitals becomes crucial in safeguarding global health systems and the communities they serve.
The findings underscore the collective responsibility of governments and the international community to act swiftly in the face of this looming threat to the stability of healthcare worldwide.