Very few people in the Pacific region will be unmarked by climate change, particularly as half the population live within 1.5 kilometres of the ocean. Noticeable rises in sea-level, more frequent cyclones and floods, and changes to seasonal weather are attributable to climate change in the area. Extreme weather has significant implications for Pacific peoples’ health outcomes. For example, Niue’s only hospital was devastated by cyclone Heta in 2004, extreme flooding in Papua New Guinea in 2008 destroyed vital hospital equipment and rises in temperature have contributed to the increasing prevalence of malaria and dengue fever a cross the Pacific region.
Much of the health research on climate change in the Pacific is dominated by the vulnerability of ecosystems and only recently have mental health impacts of climate change been recognised by public health experts. Although the research is still limited, it is projected that disruption resulting from climate change will have serious damaging effects on mental health worldwide.