Tag Archives: Water Issues

Climate Change, Perspectives from Nepal

As a molecular biologist, my mind is frequently focused highly at the microscopic level.   I rarely consider the impact of large-scale environmental or cultural events on the very small molecules or microorganisms which coexist along side us.  Since reading Influence of environmental factors on the presence of Vibrio cholerae in the marine environment: a climate link, I now have an appreciation for the link between infectious diseases and the ecosystem; that is, how the visible affects the invisible or will eventually affect the visible.

 

The interaction between the weather and infectious disease status is an important area of research.  Many examples throughout history show how weather pattern changes and natural disasters lead to catastrophic disease outbreaks.  One recent example is the current outbreak of chloera in Haiti which occurred following the earthquake of 2010 (Kelvin AA JIDC 2011).  The earthquake, which devastated the country’s already weak water sanitization system, created a habitable environment for the colonization of the Cholera bacterium and facilitated the spread of the disease.  Perhaps my favorite article which reviews the interaction between climate change/weather and infectious disease outbreaks is an article by V. Sedas.  In this article, Sedas reviews how environmental factors have significant influence on the outbreak potential and pathogenesis of V. cholerae and other disease causing agents (Seda VT JIDC 2007).  As the fecal-oral transmission route of V. cholera relies heavily on the ecology of the native water supply, seasonal water cycles have been shown to affect the emergence and re-emergence of V. cholerae, thereby affecting the health of local populations (Seda VT JIDC 2007).  This article I highly recommend reading.

In this JIDC Postcard, Yadav Prasad Joshi reflects on how anthropocentric climate change is influencing health, lifestyle and ecosystems globally.  Yadav Prasad Joshi is a PhD student from Nepal and his post provides an invaluable perspective on climate change.

Alyson

Climate Change, Perspectives from Nepal

Have you ever thought about what might be considered the worst event to affect this planet? From wars to terrorism to nuclear emissions, the list is long, but few people would point out the events of climate change. Tsunamis, floods, heat waves, glacial melting and threats to biodiversity are all disasters that affect not only the people in the regions experiencing them, but everyone worldwide.

Weather and climate play a significant role in people’s health. Changes in climate affect average weather conditions. Warmer average temperatures will likely lead to hotter days and more frequent and longer heat waves, which could increase the number of heat related illnesses and deaths. Increases in the frequency or severity of extreme weather events such as storms could accelerate the risk of dangerous flooding, high winds, and other direct threats to people and property. Warmer temperatures could increase the concentrations of unhealthy air and water pollutants. Changes in temperature, precipitation patterns, and extreme events could enhance the spread of some diseases.

Global climate change has become one of the most visible environmental concerns (Bioterrorism) of the 21st century.  Climate change has brought about severe and possibly permanent alterations to our planet’s geological, biological and ecological systems. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) now contends that “there is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities”.1 These changes have led to the emergence of large-scale environmental hazards to human health, such as ozone depletion, the greenhouse effect, acid rain, loss of biodiversity, stresses to food-producing systems and the global spread of infectious diseases.1,2 The World Health Organization(WHO) estimates that 160,000 deaths, since 1950, are directly attributable to climate change.3

During the last 100 years, human activities related to the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation and agriculture have led to a 35% increase in CO2 levels in the atmosphere, causing increased trapping of heat and warming of the earth’s atmosphere. Eleven of the last 12 years (1995-2006) rank among the 12 warmest years in the instrumental record of global surface temperature. The IPCC reports that the global average sea level rose at an average rate of 1.8 mm per year from 1961 to 2003. The total rise in the sea level during the 20th century was estimated to be 0.17 metres and projected increase in temperature range is 1.8oC to 4.0oC by the end of this century .1,4

Slide2

These IPCC reports changes point to the drastic effects that climate change could have onlife in tropical counties and islands such as Vietnam, Mongolia, Laos, Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Nauru, Micronesia, and Tonga among others. Some of these Islands are only two to three metres above sea level and by viewing this trend of climate change, it is very difficult to predict the future of these countries.  The most common observed phenomena are increasing sea level, acidification, alteration in weather conditions, droughts, cyclones, extreme ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation) and EI Nino effects, etc.

Climate change has dramatically and negatively affected human health in the form of increased  burden of diseases of all types, in particular vector-borne illnesses such as dengue and malaria. Changes in climate increase the temperature, which in turn accelerates the multiplication of vectors by breeding, causes droughts which kill crops in some areas or floods which cause cholera in others, thus contributing either directly or indirectly to other diseases such as malnutrition and water-borne, air-borne, and food-borne diseases.

Slide3

Climate change associated with increasingly frequent and severe weather events and causes extensive infrastructure damage, economic slowdown, and interruptions of medical and psychiatric care, all which are likely to affect mental health in several ways. These events, and the lifestyle changes that can result, are associated with increased mental health burdens.5

Basically, there are two ways to  contend with climate change: adaptation and mitigation. The former is as a short-term solution that addresses only how to protect ourselves from adverse condition, whereas the latter is  a long-term process. Therefore, both should run simultaneously. Research area in the sectors of climate change should be highly prioritized and awareness program should be initiated from local levels. For all these activities, governments of all nations should responsible, and develop and implement proper national action plans for climate change.

Who is responsible for these overall hazardous conditions caused by climate change? The answer is human beings. Now the time has come to protect our lovely earth and to think about what we are leaving for our future generations. It is not the time to look for blame for problems such as increasing CO2 concentrations, clear-cutting of the forests and so on. t This is the time  for  all nations and human beings to unite with integrity to save the earth and protect the earth for our progeny.

It is my hope that every human will commit to protecting our planet from changing climate and its disastrous effects on human health.

More opinions in this context are highly welcomed. For further information, please contact the author at yadavjoshi@gmail.com

References

  1. McMichael AJ (2003) Global Climate Change and Health: An Old Story Writ Large. A. J. McMichael et al. editors. World Health Organization Geneva. 1-17.
  2. Sahney, S, Benton MJ, Ferry PA (2010) Links between the global taxonomic diversity and expansion of vertebrates on the land, Biology letters 6: 544-547. Available at: http://rsbl.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/6/4/544.full.
  3. McMichael AJ, Woodruff R, Hales S (2006) Climate change and human health: Present and future risks. Lancet  367: 859-869.

4. Climate change and health in Cambodia (2008) A vulnerability and adaptation assessment, WHO/MoH.

5. Roth P ( 2010) Climate change and health: mental health effects, News and views on climate, public health and environment. Available at: http://climatechangehealth.com/tag/ptsd. Accessed on: 1 March 2010.

Slide1Mr. Yadav Prasad Joshi is Nepalese and graduated from Tribhuvan University, Nepal, in Zoology and Psychology. He is extremely interested in infectious diseases and climate change. He joined the JIDC in 2007 as a Reviewer and Editorial Board member in 2012. Mr. Yadav Prasad Joshi has more than 10 years’ teaching experience in biological science to college, university, and medical students. He  participates equally in research activities, seminars, and book writing.  He has done research in tuberculosis, malaria, and many other public health issues.

Currently, he is a PhD student at Sungkyunkwan University, South Korea, in the department of Social and Preventative Medicine. His research topic is climate change and health.

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Filed under Cholera, Countries, Environmental Issues, Environmental Postcard, Infectious Disease, Nepal, Postcards

Enivronmental Issues: Millipedes in Kashmir, India

New Blog Section:  Environmental Issues

I am pleased to announce that we are adding a new section to our JIDC Blog, called Environmental Issues.  This section will deal with problems that are affecting the environment such as floods, droughts, insects, and pollution.  We encourage readers to contact us about problems affecting their local environment.  As environmental problems usually affect health, it is important to report on these issues. 

Millipedes in Kashmir

Wikipedia Image

Our first post comes from Dr. S. Manzoor Kadri, an Epidemiologist from Kashmir Province, JK, India.  He writes about the significant population increase of multisegmented insects in his region, specifically in his local water supply.  The JIDC entamologist Ignazio Floris, professor of Entomology, Agriculture Faculty, University of Sassari, has reviewed his report and concluded these insects to be millipedes, which are arthropods that feed on decaying plant matter.  A good write up on millipedes can be found from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

Ignazio Floris described millipedes for us as being insects with a multisegmented cylindrical body, where a pair of legs usually belong to each segment of which there are many varieties.  Millipedes are usually harmless, although some tropical varieties have been shown to injure humans.  

 

The deleterious effects of Millipedes

Image from Enchanted Learning at http://www.enchantedlearning.com

In addition to destroying agricultural crops, the millipede can also cause painful bites to humans.  Along the millipede’s body segments are numerous ‘repugnatorial’ glands, where the secretions from these glands have been shown to be harmful to humans. The millipedes which can cause harmful affects to humans mostly arise from tropical and subtropical zones, where giant species have been found (youtube video on giant African millipede).  Specifically, millipedes have been known to bite humans and cause much pain due to local erythema and oedema, which can last over several hours. Systemic symptoms can also arise from the painful bites which include nausea, dizziness and pyrexia. 

 Below is the Environmental Postcard from Dr. SM Kadri.

Alyson

 

POSTCARD ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUE:  Story of Insects from Marrhama Block Trehgam District Kupwara , Kashmir , India: Is it a public health problem?

Insects have been found in Marrhama, a village in Blok Trehgam in the District of Kupwara Jammu and Kashmir, India. The main water source used for drinking purposes is badly affected by the insects.

Map of India from Wikitravel

Health Professionals along with a Block Medical Officer, visited the village, which is about 20 km away from District Head Quarter Kupwara. The area is mostly surrounded by forests and hills, and the population of the affected village Marrhama is about 3500.

The people of the area are very poor subsitance farmers who possess little land.

A  local resident told the Integrated Disease Surveillance Project (IDSP)  Team that he had seen a large number of the same kind of insects in the forest one month previously, creeping from the jungle area towards the village .

 

Morphology of Insects

The insects are white in colour, approximately 1 inch long, and  each insect has 40 pairs of legs. During its visit, the IDSP Team observed that the insects were found mostly in moist rather than in hot, dry areas. The team must now determine the extent of the public health problem that is posed by the presence of the insects and the safety of the local drinking water.

Image taken by Mr Najmusaqib Shah , DM , IDSP ,Kupwara

 

 

Picture taken by Mr Najmusaqib Shah , DM , IDSP ,Kupwara

 

Picture taken by Mr Najmusaqib Shah , DM , IDSP ,Kupwara

 

Picture taken by Mr Najmusaqib Shah , DM , IDSP ,Kupwara

 

 

Picture taken by Mr Najmusaqib Shah , DM , IDSP ,Kupwara

More pictures of the Insects can be found here in PDF format: Insects_seen_in_the_affected_area_of_District_Kupwara[1]

 

Tasks and Challenges? Is it a public health problem? Is the water safe for drinking?

 

Surveillance Team Members

  • Dr SM Kadri, Epidemiologist Kashmir, India
  • Dr Masarat Iqbal Wani , Block Medical Officer Kupwara, India
  • Mr. Najmusaqib Shah, Data Manager IDSP, Kupwara India

 This report was possible due to the dynamic leadership of Dr. Saleem ur Rehman, Director of Health Services, Kashmir, India.

SM Kadri Bio

Picture taken by Ms Elis Waden

Syed Manzoor Kadri, MB, MPH/ICHD (Royal Tropical Institute, Amsterdam, The Netherlands) is working as an epidemiologist in Kashmir, India.  Dr.Kadri  is the State Nodal officer for NCD (Non Communicable Diseases) for Jammu & Kashmir, India.   He is associated with Public Health Foundation of India as an Observer /Advisor for EBDM (Evidence Based Diabetes Management).   As well, he  is the State Surveillance Officer for Disease Control for CD/NCDs.  Dr. Kadri  trains medical doctors and paramedics in the upcoming theoretics of diseases, awareness regarding HIV/AIDS, reproductive and child health, and disease surveillance.  His research interests include the diagnosis and treatment of infectious disease.  Dr. Kadri  is Editor-in-Chief for International Journal of Med and PH www.ijmedph.org  and Executive Editor for Indian J for Practicing Doctor http://ijpd.indmedica.com .  He is a fellow of World Health Organization where he completed FETP.

Post and Bio submitted by SM Kadri

Image from the Royal Alberta Museum http://www.royalalbertamuseum.ca

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Filed under Environmental Issues, Environmental Postcard, India, Postcards