BACKGROUND In responding to the health impacts of climate change, economic evidence and tools inform decision makers of the efficiency of alternative health policies and interventions. In a time when sweeping budget cuts are affecting all tiers of government, economic evidence on health protection from climate change spending enables comparison with other public spending. METHODS The review included 53 countries of the World Health Organization (WHO) European Region. Literature was obtained using a Medline and Internet search of key terms in published reports and peer-reviewed literature, and from institutions working on health and climate change. Articles were included if they provided economic estimation of the health impacts of climate change or adaptation measures to protect health from climate change in the WHO European Region. Economic studies are classified under health impact cost, health adaptation cost, and health economic evaluation (comparing both costs and impacts). RESULTS A total of 40 relevant studies from Europe were identified, covering the health damage or adaptation costs related to the health effects of climate change and response measures to climate-sensitive diseases. No economic evaluation studies were identified of response measures specific to the impacts of climate change. Existing studies vary in terms of the economic outcomes measured and the methods for evaluation of health benefits. The lack of robust health impact data underlying economic studies significantly affects the availability and precision of economic studies. CONCLUSIONS Economic evidence in European countries on the costs of and response to climate-sensitive diseases is extremely limited and fragmented. Further studies are urgently needed that examine health impacts and the costs and efficiency of alternative responses to climate-sensitive health conditions, in particular extreme weather events (other than heat) and potential emerging diseases and other conditions threatening Europe.
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