An ecological study on climate vulnerability and health in India- case for an improved risk index
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Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) "ICMR RMRC Nalco Square Chandrasekharpur, Bhubaneswar" India
Publication date: 2023-04-26
Popul. Med. 2023;5(Supplement):A221
Background and Objective:
Climate change has the most direct and immediate effect on a population’s health, highlighting the need for assessing vulnerability of communities towards this effect. This study examines the relationship between common health outcomes and a ‘climate vulnerability index (VI)’ used in India to assess its predictive capability.

This was an ecological study using districts of India the unit of analysis. Secondary data of four nationally representative datasets obtained from the National Data Analytics Platform was used in this study: fifth round of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5), National Health Missions Health Management Information System (HMIS), estimates of district vulnerability, and the lates Census of India. We used some common health outcomes available with these datasets to estimate their correlation with the districts Vulnerability Index (VI), which was the exposure of interest.

The VI of the districts was between 0.34 and 0.75. Among them 222 districts were classified as Very highly and highly vulnerable (VI: 0.59-0.75), 258 as moderately vulnerable (VI: 0.51- 0.59) and 132 districts as low or very low vulnerable (VI: 0.34 – 0.51). There was a statistically significant correlation between VI and prevalence of obstetric complications including gestational diabetes mellitus, still births, spontaneous abortions as well as the incidence of childhood pneumonia, asthma, and sepsis. However, the VI had few health parameters in its construction and is not suitable for predicting health related outcomes.

The vulnerability index used in India to classify districts did not significantly or consistently correlate with measures of population health, making it unsuitable for use in health impact assessments.