Global Climate Change and Health

There are disparities in handling public health challenges in developing and developed nations, particularly when considering outcomes of diseases and outbreak management. The U.S., Vietnam, and Australia represent three countries that offer varied responses for health issues that emerge because of global climate change conditions. The U.S. and Australia are two nations with well-developed and structured public health systems as compared to inefficiencies in Vietnam. Two health concerns associated with changes in the global climate, including vector-borne diseases (dengue fever) and heat-related illnesses (mental disorders), affect the three countries differently (Wilder-Smith, Murray, & Quam, 2013). The input of health professionals in dealing with them reflects disparities existing between developed nations and developing ones as exemplified by varied measures taken in the US and Australia as compared to Vietnam.



Changes in heat levels in the atmosphere have contributed to the increasing number of individuals requiring medical attention because of mental disorders (Trang, Rocklöv, Giang, Kullgren, & Nilsson, 2016). Similar health challenges are manifested regardless of the status of a country, but response measures underline significant differences exemplified by cases reported in Vietnam and Australia. Heatwaves are characterized by temperatures that exceed 28°C for more than three consecutive days (Trang et al., 2016). Their impacts are varied, but they have the effect of stimulating mental diseases among members of the community residing in the affected areas. A study conducted in Hanoi highlights the scope of the situation, with 21,443 cases reported in the mental health segment related to heatwaves. The example shows that about 53.1% of visits relate to schizophrenia and delusional disorders, while other mental health problems account for the rest.

The significant number of individuals hospitalized because of mental health challenges shows serious public health problems that confront Vietnam society resulting from changes in the global climate. Schmeltz and Gamble (2017) corroborate the findings of the Vietnamese-based study and identify similar challenges in the USA with the link of high temperatures to an increase in mortality and morbidity rates, as well as the number of individuals exposed to the development of mental illnesses. The authors affirm heat as being a precursor for the onset of mental diseases.

The majority of hospitalizations in the U.S. recorded for heat-related illnesses translate to the onset of different mental disorders (Trang et al., 2016). The Australian research offers similar reports highlighting extreme heat in the country between 2007 and 2009 as having contributed to impacts on the mental health of the Adelaide population (Trang et al., 2016). Australia is marked as one of the countries where the population aged between 65 and 74 is exposed to the development of mental illnesses because of the exposure to high temperatures with some of the prevalent diseases including dementia, stress, as well as neurotic and mood (affective) disorders. Their neglect can lead to severe mental health challenges and an increase in the mortality rate. The U.S. and Australia use sensitization campaigns and warnings to prevent the growth of cases of heat-related illnesses because of the accuracy of weather prediction systems alongside the investigation of likely mental health problems, unlike in Vietnam where the public health sector is constrained because of resources.

Dengue fever represents one of the leading vector-borne diseases, and impacts of the global climate change on it cannot be understated. Annual dengue infections range between 50 and 200 million cases reported but estimates suggest that about 400 million people are affected (Wilder-Smith et al., 2013). 50% of the global population resides in areas where the risk for dengue fever is high. The management of the disease varies from one country to the next as exemplified by cases in the USA, Australia, and Vietnam.

Do, Martens, Luu, Wright, and Choisy (2014) highlight challenges associated with dengue that contribute to about 390 million infections annually with only 96 million being reported. The case in Vietnam regarding dengue fever in light of the global climate change is worrying as it is ranked among the leading ten diseases that overburden its health sector. About 72% of dengue fever cases in the country are recorded between June and November highlighting the seasonality of the disease (Do et al., 2014). Dengue was a threat in the past in the USA, but it employed control measures in the 1970s that led to its reduction and almost elimination in the 1980s. The number of cases reported in the country majorly emerges because of foreign-based transmissions with very few people being infected locally. The case of dengue fever in the well-developed public health sector in Australia is similar to the U.S. with the majority of individuals diagnosed with the disease having contracted it while on visits to dangerous zones. If left untreated, dengue infections lead to deaths with progression from the primary stage to the secondary one. Patients experience shock and hemorrhage that reduce the quality of life (Wilder-Smith et al., 2013). The USA and Australia apply strict border regulations and immigration policies that facilitate the monitoring of individuals in sensitive areas to minimize the likelihood of dengue fever being transmitted. On the other hand, Vietnam uses sensitization programs to deal with the growing cases of dengue infections.

As exemplified by Vietnam, the foregoing challenges in developing nations highlight stressors that confront nurses and other health professionals while dealing with medical cases without accompanying resources (Holtz, 2017). Nurses have the duty of taking charge of such healthcare issues as dengue fever and mental health issues that emerge because of changing climatic conditions (Veenema et al., 2016). Therefore, the nursing fraternity in Vietnam should base their activities on successes recorded in Australia and the USA by initiating sensitization campaigns on measures that can reduce the effects of dengue fever and mental illnesses because of heatwaves (Stanhope & Lancaster, 2016). Health professionals working under strenuous conditions can design programs that enhance the knowledge of vulnerable populations of measures like using mosquito nets to avoid dengue fever and constant hydration in times of high temperatures.

An additional measure requires nurse leaders to create sustainable vector control mechanisms for preventing the high occurrence of dengue fever. It involves the development of partnerships with members of society alongside the integration of non-chemical and chemical control mechanisms that target the control of causative agents in areas with a high number of dengue infections (Wilder-Smith et al., 2013). Further, heat-related illnesses and dengue fever should be classified as top priority health problems with the need for early detection. Therefore, nurses can launch community outreach programs to work with society, ensuring that cases of heatwave diseases are dealt with before serious mental health challenges are developed.


Disparities in the transmission and effects of dengue fever and mental illnesses that emerge because of changes in the global climate have a direct correlation with the structure of the public health sector in the respective countries. While dengue fever has been almost eliminated in the USA and Australia because of organized medical campaigns, resource issues in Vietnam prevent progress in dealing with the disease. The case is similar while reflecting on the involvement of health professionals while dealing with mental illnesses, with the population in Australia and the USA receiving better attention and diagnosis as compared to people living in Vietnam. The robust nature of the public health sectors in the first two countries contributes to the insulation of the population against negative consequences of global climate change as compared to Vietnam.


Do, T., Martens, P., Luu, N., Wright, P., & Choisy, M. (2014). Climatic-driven seasonality of emerging dengue fever in Hanoi, Vietnam. BMC Public Health, 14(1), 1078.

Holtz, C. (2017). Global health care: Issues and policies (3rd ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Schmeltz, M., & Gamble, J. (2017). Risk characterization of hospitalizations for mental illness and/or behavioral disorders with concurrent heat-related illness. PLoS One, 12(10), e0186509.

Stanhope, M., & Lancaster, J. (2016). Public health nursing: Population-centered health care in the community (9th ed.). St. Louis, MI: Elsevier Health Sciences.

Trang, P., Rocklöv, J., Giang, K., Kullgren, G., & Nilsson, M. (2016). Heatwaves and hospital admissions for mental disorders in Northern Vietnam. PLoS One, 11(5), e0155609.

Veenema, T., Griffin, A., Gable, A., MacIntyre, L., Simons, R., Couig, M., … Larson, E. (2016). Nurses as leaders in disaster preparedness and response - a call to action. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 48(2), 187-200.

Wilder-Smith, A., Murray, N., & Quam, M. (2013). Epidemiology of dengue: Past, present, and future prospects. Clinical Epidemiology, 5, 299-309.

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