Tag Archives: dengue fever

Local IKiribati women. Photo: Finn Frandsen, Politiken

WHO links climate change and disease increase

Local IKiribati women. Photo: Finn Frandsen, Politiken

Local IKiribati women. Photo: Finn Frandsen, Politiken

The World Health Organisation (WHO) confirms there is a clear correlation between climate change and increases in diseases in the Pacific. For the Pacific, WHO identified malaria, dengue fever, diarrhea, typhoid and leptospirosis are among the important climate-sensitive diseases, the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program (SPREP) reports.

Dr Rokho Kim, WHO’s Environmental Health Specialist based in Fiji said evidence suggests that certain weather conditions are related to an increase in certain diseases.

“We have found that after a heavy drought in a country, there is an increase in cases of diarrhea. In a situation like that, we advice the Ministry of Health to prepare for possible increases in diarrhea cases. It is important to strengthen notifiable diseases surveillance programme which includes training of doctors to report to the government and respond quickly and timely to the situation.

“This early warning system is very effective. We are working with governments to establish reliable good surveillance programme and well trained doctors to diagnose climate-sensitive diseases at the early stage.

WHO estimates that 150,000 people die from climate related diseases every year.

Read the full story on Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme

Read more about the potential health effects of climate change
Ciguatera poisoning
Diarrhoeal disease
Dengue fever

A former fresh water lagoon that is now inundated with sea water. Photo: Justin McManus, The Age

Risk of Dengue Fever to increase

Climate change exacerbates public health problems in Tarawa. The incidence of ciguatera poisoning, diarrhoeal disease, malnutrition, and vectorborne diseases, such as dengue fever, rise as a result of increased temperatures and changes in rainfall.

There have been several known outbreaks of Dengue Fever in Kiribati since the 1970s. South Tarawa is at a relatively high risk of dengue fever epidemics due to a combination of crowded urban areas, ideal climate conditions for the vector (average temperatures of 31 degrees Celsius and rainfall of 500 millimetres a month), the presence of an international airport, and the proliferation of discarded empty bottles and used tires.

A simple model suggests that the risk of dengue fever will increase in the future as a result of climate change, with the epidemic potential – an index measuring the efficiency of disease transmission – expected to increase 22─33 percent by 2050. Most of South Tarawa’s population would be exposed in the event of an epidemic. However, while future epidemics could expand faster, the number of cases would probably not increase from current levels. The increased prevalence of all dengue virus serotypes worldwide could also lead to a higher incidence of severe forms of dengue fever – in particular dengue hemorrhagic fever and dengue shock syndrome, which can be fatal.

Read more about the potential health effects of climate change