8 Jul 2013

WHO urges more Pacific backing of disease early warning system

1:49 pm on 8 July 2013

The World Health Organisation is urging all Pacific Island countries to adopt early warning systems for outbreaks of diseases such as malaria and dengue fever.

A clear link is now confirmed between climate change and certain diseases sensitive to climate, including diarrhoea, typhoid and leptospirosis.

An environmental health specialist says Fiji, Solomon Islands and the Marshall Islands are using surveillance systems to help them prevent and contain disease outbreaks related to flooding, natural disasters and drought.

Dr Rohko Kim says as an example, it is known that at certain points in times of both heavy rain and drought, outbreaks of diarrhoea will occur.

"Then the ministries of health should not wait until those outbreaks happen. Already they should be prepared using those climate variables in the early warning system."

Dr Rohko Kim says that way more doctors can be sent to affected areas to detect the first instance of disease.