Sunday, April 13, 2014

Health at the heart of climate change agenda

The Hindu: Climate change may trigger the emergence of new and unfamiliar infections and pose new challenges for disease control in Kerala. According to the State Action Plan on Climate Change (SAPCC) prepared by the Department of Environment and Climate Change, the health sector will have to contend with the outbreak of vector and water borne diseases, new breeding sites of vectors, pathogens and bacteria, occurrence of new and emerging diseases, and increase in mortality due to extreme events caused by climate change.

There is a need for Kerala to put health at the heart of the climate change agenda, the action plan states. Observing that the emergence of dengue fever, chikungunya, and other viral diseases are highly sensitive to climate conditions, the document notes that combating these diseases will extract a toll on public health and the economy.

The report warns that climate change can also result in diseases such as Lyme disease and tick-borne encephalitis as well as salmonella and other food borne infections caused, transmitted or harboured by insects, snails and other cold-bloode
d creatures. “When infectious diseases appear in new locations where people lack immunity and health services do not have experience in control or treatment, the effects can be dramatic.”

The report says that people living in coastal regions, waterlogged areas, cities, and hilly areas are particularly vulnerable to climate change....

The chikungunya virus, image by A2-33, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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