Climate change induced diseases in Hindukhush

Climate change induced diseases in Hindukhush

Mubashir Sultan

It is evident from recent crisis across the globe that climate change and global warming are not hoax but a reality which is aggressively altering the geography, ecosystem and human well-being.

Around 2.1 million houses were reported to be damaged across Pakistan after the devastating floods of 2022. At least 803 houses were completely damaged and 307,500 of the total population in Chitral was affected, according to PDMA Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.  

As these abrupt changes in weather pattern damages the infrastructure and disrupts daily life, it also contributes excessively in the spread of various diseases which have never been reported in a certain area.

Climate change can have significant impacts on the spread of various diseases, particularly those transmitted by vectors such as mosquitoes, ticks, and other organisms. Here are some examples.

Increased vector-borne diseases

Rising temperatures and altered precipitation patterns can expand the geographical range of disease-carrying vectors. For instance, the expansion of the geographic range of mosquitoes due to warmer temperatures can lead to a higher prevalence of mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria, dengue fever and Zika virus.

Changes in waterborne diseases

Climate change can affect water quality and availability, leading to an increased risk of waterborne diseases. For example, changes in rainfall patterns can lead to contaminated water sources, promoting the spread of diseases like cholera and dysentery.

Altered ecological balance

Climate change can disrupt ecosystems and alter the habitats of various species. This can impact the distribution of disease-carrying organisms. For example, changes in temperature and precipitation can impact the habitats of rodents, increasing the risk of diseases such as Hantavirus and lyme disease.

Impact on food production

Climate change can affect agricultural practices and food security, leading to malnutrition and weakened immune systems, making populations more susceptible to diseases. Additionally, changes in temperature and humidity can impact the growth and spread of food-borne pathogens.

Extreme weather events

More frequent and severe extreme weather events, such as hurricanes, floods, and heat waves, can displace populations and disrupt public health infrastructure. This can lead to the spread of various diseases in the aftermath of such events due to compromised sanitation and limited access to clean water.

With the scarce resources and incapability of the local administration along with the limited scope of work of the NGOs which usually works around AID model fails to keep a track of data for monitoring these diseases, it must also not surprise the readers to note that the local community is totally unaware of these developments and no proper arrangements have been made to sensitize the community regarding the precautions for these diseases.

Poor road structure and unequipped health facilities in the mountainous region make it difficult for the patients to receive immediate medical assistance; many precious lives have been lost only due the aforementioned issues.

The provincial health department and NGOs who claims to work for improving the standard of living of the community in Chitral and receive a handsome amount funding which often goes unchecked and audited must focus on sensitizing the local community regarding these diseases and devise a precautionary plan so the spread of these diseases must be controlled.


Also: Impact of climate change on women.

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