Thursday, December 20, 2007

More heat waves and fewer rainy days in Nepal

Gorkhapatra (Nepal): Climate change will have adverse impact on human health and environment, which could cause fatal diseases, loss of lives, natural calamities like flood, landslides, reduction of water level and low production of crops. Environmentalists and researchers said Wednesday that climate change had direct impact on human health through pathways such as extreme weather events that causes injuries, deaths and epidemics, particularly water borne and vector borne diseases.

The experts added that local weather phenomena would be changed reversing the natural weather cycle that could cause warmer weathers in winter in hills than in Terai, shorten fog prevalence in Kathmandu valley, increase cold wave and hot waves in Terai, decrease the number of rainy days.

Addressing a three-day National Workshop on Climate Change and Human Health: Potential, Impact, Vulnerability and Adaptation in Nepal," Minister of State for Health and Population Shashi Shrestha said that the impact of climate change should be advocated at the grassroots level by identifying the highly vulnerable areas of climate change.

She said climate change had adverse multiple impact on agriculture, environment and health, and directly result in rising temperature, heavy flood, landslides, reduction of water level and low production of crops. This would create social conflict in nations after displacing people from their respective settlements." She said the impact of climate change directly affects the health of people because it causes outbreaks of communicable disease likes dengue, malaria, kala-azar, Japanese encephalitis and diarrhea.

…Professor of Institute of Medicine Bandana Pradhan presented a paper that deals with change in climate such as temperature with precipitation and its impact on water bodies and health of people. She said that following the global warming across the world, Nepal had also experienced rise in temperature. The past record has shown that the temperature has been rising by 0.5 degrees centigrade per decade.

Pradhan said that the results of climatic phenomena had clearly been seen on instigating more landslides and soil erosion on the mountains, hills, floods and siltation in the lowlands. She added that rapid growth of population and migration increased number of vehicular traffic and development activities, expansion of cultivated land of declining forests, increasing forest fires, expansion of urban built areas has led to change in local and regional climates in the country. “Water related diseases like diarrhea, dysentery, typhoid, hepatitis, skin diseases including vector-borne diseases has often occurred across different parts of the country due to poor water quality and sanitation," she said.

Dr. Fang Jing of International Center of Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) said that human health is determined by numerous determinants that cause the attribution of the impact of climate change to health outcomes challenges. It has also indirectly affect human health through producing impact on ecosystem services include food, water, air and regulation of disease vectors. He said poverty was the biggest factors that cause vulnerability to climate change, thus climate change should be taken as an opportunity to reinforce the poverty alleviation agenda and improvement in health infrastructure.

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