The spatial distribution of health vulnerability to heat waves in Guangdong Province, China
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Background: International literature has illustrated that the health impacts of heat waves vary according to differences in the spatial variability of high temperatures and the social and economic characteristics of populations and communities. However, to date there have been few studies that quantitatively assess the health vulnerability to heat waves in China. Objectives: To assess the spatial distribution of health vulnerability to heat waves in Guangdong Province, China. Methods: A vulnerability framework including dimensions of exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity was employed. The last two dimensions were called social vulnerability. An indicator pool was proposed with reference to relevant literatures, local context provided by relevant local stakeholder experts, and data availability. An analytic hierarchy process (AHP) and a principal component analysis were used to determine the weight of indicators. A multiplicative vulnerability index (VI) was constructed for each district/county of Guangdong province, China. Results: A total of 13 items (two for exposure, six for sensitivity, and five for adaptive capacity) were proposed to assess vulnerability. The results of an AHP revealed that the average VI in Guangdong Province was 0.26 with the highest in the Lianzhou and Liannan counties of Qingyuan (VI=0.50) and the lowest in the Yantian district of Shenzhen (VI=0.08). Vulnerability was gradiently distributed with higher levels in northern inland regions and lower levels in southern coastal regions. In the principal component analysis, three components were isolated from the 11 social vulnerability indicators. The estimated vulnerability had a similar distribution pattern with that estimated by AHP (Intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC)=0.98, p<0.01). Conclusions: Health vulnerability to heat waves in Guangdong Province had a distinct spatial distribution, with higher levels in northern inland regions than that in the southern coastal regions.
Global Health Action
© 2014 Qi Zhu et al. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported (CC BY 4.0) License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), allowing third parties to copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format and to remix, transform, and build upon the material for any purpose, even commercially, provided the original work is properly cited and states its license.
Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety