Impact of Climate Change on the Global Pharmaceutical Industry
The world has struggled its way out of the Covid Pandemic. However, even today, the very thought of those times is enough to make us shiver. From innumerable fatalities on one hand and economic slowdown and widespread unemployment on the other, the virus came as an important life lesson for the world that when health collapses, with it collapses every other facet of life.
An equally worrisome and potentially catastrophic reality confronting us is climate change, which has been intensifying more and more with each passing year. So far, we have to some extent, merrily evaded it, walking past its early signs, but are now face to face with it and witnessing its dire and ever-increasing implications, which signify that sooner or later, we might become too vulnerable and fall prey to yet another global health crisis.
Climate Change is indeed taking place every moment, round the clock, all around the world. Droughts, floods, heat waves, wildfires, haphazard mining etc. – all have substantially contributed to spread of diseases many times over, and this frightening trend seems to be growing by the day. However, what needs to be understood is that climate change doesn’t have to be just ‘tackled’, but has to be consciously and conscientiously acted upon.
Alarming as it may sound, Climate Change has a tangible and an intangible side to it. Its causes, conditions and consequences are apparent, but it does make the global health situations fall in its loop in several threatening ways, as brought out below.
- Disruption of Supply Chains – In the past, several incidences of climate change have led to disruptions in the pharma supply chain owing to disruptions in the transport network. Such bottlenecks impede the production and distribution of pharmaceutical products. Even as infrastructural restructuring may seem the right solution to this issue, the exorbitant investments involved for a seemingly permanent problem like climate change is certainly not a practical step.
- Manufacturing Incapability – Natural calamities come with no warning signs and test our preparedness and ability to respond effectively. During such occurrences, viruses spread more exponentially and quickly, overwhelming the local healthcare system. This is also the time when the robustness and accessibility of pharma capability are put to the test. The sheer dearth of manufacturing facilities and the helplessness to meet the heightened demand for drugs and medical equipment may worsen the prevailing health conditions, making even treatable diseases lethal.
- Increased Disease Burden and Supply Shortage – The rising global temperature has increasingly spread water-borne illnesses, leading to a damaging path of disease-carrying organisms, and contributing to the spread of water-borne diseases such as cholera, dysentery, and hepatitis A, Mosquito-borne diseases like malaria, zika, dengue, Vector-Borne diseases such as Lyme, west nile virus as well as respiratory illnesses like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Such conditions have severe consequences on public health, particularly in areas with limited resources for timely treatment.
The above underlying effects of climate change on pharma supply demand a stronger focus on prevention. Some key considerations to be implemented to have a sound smooth, and uninterrupted supply in the pharmaceutical supply chain are stated hereunder:
- Regional Regulations – Climate change is disproportionate when it comes to affecting different communities and regions. Health equity is one of the major barriers to access to healthcare, depriving vulnerable populations, viz. low-income communities, indigenous groups, and regions with limited access to health services. Therefore, it is imperative for regulators, pharmaceutical companies and pharma engineering firms to analyse the changes in disease patterns, take into account potential risks associated with climate-related events such as floods, storms, or heatwaves and work together to ensure the resilience and continuity of providing essential and timely healthcare services.
- Public Health Considerations – Climate change can have indirect impacts on public health, potentially affecting the demand for certain pharmaceutical products. Changing climate patterns can influence the prevalence and geographical distribution of diseases, necessitating adjustments in the production and distribution of vaccines, medications, and preventive treatments as per the shifting disease patterns. Addressing these considerations can facilitate a more responsive and effective healthcare system.
- Back-Up Systems – Climate-related disasters drive the need for consistent availability of pharma equipment and other critical components that can help ensure the continuity of pharmaceutical manufacturing and supply during climate-related events. Monitoring and maintaining proper storage conditions for temperature-sensitive products is paramount too. This proactive approach can help in bringing more seamlessness into operations and meet the evolving needs of the population.
- Increasing Research and Development – Climate change requires increased emphasis on innovative research and development for disease surveillance and predictive models along with timely response for climate-sensitive diseases. Investing in technology and infrastructure is an appropriate way for a quick and accurate diagnosis and development of diagnostic tools, detection of emerging diseases, development of climate-resilient medication and further formulations and monitoring of the efficacy of the pharma resources.
- Sustainable Solutions – Adopting sustainable manufacturing across the pharmaceutical supply chain can not only help in promoting public health and supporting the long-term viability of the pharmaceutical sector but also help in mitigating climate change’s impact on health. Exploring and implementing energy-efficient technologies and practices, such as optimising equipment, improving insulation, and using renewable energy sources, can result in safer and more sustainable manufacturing processes.
On the whole, the short and long terms risks of the pharma supply chain due to climate chain disruptions may remain challenging until we have a strong healthcare infrastructure and pharmaceutical capabilities. The need of the hour is to strengthen our pharma geographies through spread-out healthcare facilities and a more streamlined and seamless flow of essential medicines.
Fabtech, since its very inception, has made healthcare its top priority. And today, with Climate Crisis, we see healthcare more as a fundamental human right. With this line of thought, we are ambitiously working on pharmaceutical equipment and healthcare facilities that pave the way for equitable and accessible medicines. With us, pharma engineering goes in sync with sustainable solutions and concerted actions like Pre-Painted Galvanized Iron (PPGI) Cleanroom Wall Panels, energy-efficient HVAC systems, Energy Recovery Wheels (ERW), variable pumping systems etc.
We have also been determinedly working towards the treatment and prevention of infectious diseases by setting up BSL 3 laboratories, clean air solutions like cleanroom containment systems and working on a defined OEL level so as to be prepared for any potential pandemic and infectious diseases in the fallout of climate change.
Climate Change certainly has to be battled out, but not without putting our focus on healthcare and certainly not without supporting one other.
Let’s work towards a healthier tomorrow, for the time is NOW.
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