New funding to tackle impact of climate change on health

11 Mar 19

Health minister Nicola Blackwood has announced up to £56m of funding for research into climate change, calling it “one of the biggest challenges” facing public health.

Blackwood said increased extremes of hot and cold weather caused by climate change have “a serious impact on the health of the nation”, adding that pollution can lead to chronic conditions, including cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, as well as lung cancer – leading to reduced life expectancy.

Announcing a new wave of Health Protection Research Unit, which will be funded by the National Institute for Health Research, Blackwood invited universities in England to apply to be partners.

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

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

“In 2017-18, the HPRUs were involved in 413 studies and 514 peer review publications. They supported a total of 254 PhD students and secured £50 million funding from other sources,” she added.

“Air pollution can have a devastating impact on our health and is a key issue that we need to tackle through research,” Blackwood said. “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.”

She added: “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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