Bangladesh urges strong health system to tackle climate-sensitive diseases

With vulnerable countries exposed to public health risks from the consequences of climate change weather patterns, Bangladesh has been urged to build a stronger health system to deal with the increase in climate-sensitive diseases.

The recently released World Bank’s Climate Victims Report said the study suggests a link between changing climate conditions and an increase in cases of respiratory, waterborne and mosquito-borne diseases in Bangladesh, Xinhua news agency reported.

Mercy Tembon, World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh and Bhutan, said Bangladesh has remarkably met the challenges of climate change despite being among the most vulnerable countries. It has built resilience against natural calamities and offered home-grown solutions to improve agricultural productivity.

With more evidence showing the clear effects of climate change on physical and mental health, Bangladesh needs to build on its success in adaptation to ensure a robust health system that prevents outbreaks of emerging climate-sensitive diseases.

The data showed that over the past 40-plus years, Bangladesh has experienced a 0.5 °C increase in temperature, with summer getting hotter, winter getting warmer and the monsoon season extending from February to October. .

According to the report, the temperature in Bangladesh is projected to increase by 1.4 degree Celsius by 2050.

The report said inclement weather conditions played a significant role in the 2019 dengue outbreak in Dhaka city, which accounted for 77 per cent of the country’s total dengue-related deaths. That year, Dhaka recorded more than triple the average February rainfall, followed by higher temperatures and humidity between March and July.

The report said that the chances of contracting infectious diseases are about 20 percent less in the dry season than in the monsoon.

Respiratory disease increases with increase in temperature and humidity. For a 1 degree Celsius increase in temperature, people are more likely to suffer from respiratory diseases by 5.7 percentage points; According to the World Bank report, for a 1 percent increase in humidity, the chance of catching a respiratory infection increases by 1.5 percentage points.

By ensuring robust data collection, Bangladesh can better track the development of climate-sensitive diseases, said Iffat Mahmood, senior operating officer at the World Bank and co-author of the report.

He said, especially by recording accurate weather data at the local level and linking it to health data, it would be possible to predict potential disease outbreaks and set up a climate-based dengue early warning system.

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