2 Apr 2012

Climate change likely to heighten risk of diseases - report

7:41 am on 2 April 2012

The WHO in Fiji says a report highlighting links between climate change and tropical diseases will lead to early warning of future outbreaks.

Climate change and health officer, Dr Lachlan McIver, says the information will also help support pilot projects in communities with increased burdens of the four diseases studied.

Dr McIver says the project looked at dengue, typhoid, leptospirosis and diarrhoeal disease and the evidence shows distinct links with rainfall, temperature and humidity levels.

He says climate change is likely to amplify existing diseases rather than bring new threats in the future.

"Just increase in temperature itself can increase the risk of diahorrea. The effects of temperature and rainfall on mosquito breeding and biting behaviour and interaction with humans, can change the epidemiology of dengue fever. The effects of particularly rainfall but also temperature on the dynamics of interactions between domestic livestock, rodents and humans, can increase the risk of leptospirosis."

Dr McIver says the future focus of the project over the next two years will be in the Western and Northern Divisions and large urban centres like Suva and Lautoka.