Tuesday, July 30, 2013

'Climate change affecting health in Sundarbans'

Zee News: Frequent climatic shocks in the form of cyclones and floods in Sundarbans is playing havoc with the health of 4.5 million villagers staying in the fragile islands, experts say.  As a result of climate change induced sea level rise, instances of coastal erosion, flooding and cyclone incidences have increased manifold in the Sundarban swamps putting the poor villagers at greater health risks.

Almost all types of communicable diseases primarily related to respiratory and gastro-intestinal systems are highly prevalent in Sundarbans, a UNESCO World Heritage site located few kms away from Kolkata.

Prof Barun Kanjilal of The Indian Institute of Health Management Research (IIHMR), who has been studying the region, told PTI that children are the worst affected with chronic malnutrition, diarrhea and other common childhood illness highly prevalent among them.

"Transient climatic shocks have made the child health worse through the pathway of chronic poverty, low resilience, physical and social barriers to health seeking as well as ineffective service delivery system," he said.

When climate events destroy crops, lands or houses, it affects the food security of the people ultimately causing undernutrition through reduction in calorie intake.  In addition to this, disease outbreaks causes additional suffering.  During heavy rains, the low-lying villages get inundated and tubewells go under water. When the water recedes, it leaves behind a trail of impurities, most of it having also entered the tubewells....

A cow shed in the Sundarbans in India, shot by Arne Hückelheim

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