Saturday, September 20, 2008

Climate, health experts urge scientists to work together in Africa

Afrique en ligne (France): Faced with the prospect of more variable and changing climates increasing Africa's already intolerable disease burden, scientists must begin to reach out to colleagues in other fields and to the people they want to help if they hope to avert an expected "continental disaster," according to leading climate, health, and information technology experts who have just concluded a meeting in Nairobi.

Climate change will further increase the already high variability of Africa's climate, fostering the emergence, resurgence and spread of infectious diseases. "A warmer world will generally be a sicker world," said Prof. Onesmo ole-MoiYoi, a Tanzania medical, veterinary and vector expert.

"We scientists need to adopt a new way of working, one that makes African communities bearing the burden of disease part of the solution rather than part of the problem," he said according to a statement by the International Livestock Research Institute. The experts said the separate fields of human health, animal health, climate, vectors and environment must come together to avert a "continental disaster".

The experts concluded a three-day meeting sponsored by and organized by researchers from the IGAD Climate Predictions and Applications Centre (ICPAC) , the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe), ILRI and The meeting was one of the first on the continent to link climate and health researchers to reduce Africa's infectious disease burden.

…"To combat disease, we need a holistic approach that involves local communities, " ole-MoiYoi said. "We can control malaria across Africa if we can divorce ourselves from the linear thinking that looks for a solution and adopt an integrated approach."…

Tissue infected with Rift Valley Fever, highly magnified. Centers for Disease Control, Wikimedia Commons

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