IPS Examines Debate Over Impact Of Climate Change On Health

“More intense rainfall, rising temperatures and climate-driven migration of human and animal populations due to repeated drought all affect the spread of tropical diseases,” Inter Press Service writes in an article examining the impact of climate change on health, a topic that “generated debate among the experts attending the 18th International Congress on Tropical Medicine and Malaria, held Sept. 23-27 in Rio de Janeiro.” “On one side of the debate stands researcher Ulisses Confalonieri, of Brazil’s state-run Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz), who argues that the press often oversimplifies a very complex issue,” IPS continues, adding, “On the other side, the president of the Brazilian Society of Tropical Medicine (SBMT), Carlos Henrique Costa Nery, told IPS that ‘it is not outrageous to say that climate change has inevitable consequences for tropical diseases.'”

Costa Nery added “that while the role of climate change in some of the effects seen in the realm of disease is still speculative, it has been documented in some instances, such as the case of leishmaniasis in Europe,” IPS writes, noting “there is agreement among experts that the phenomenon is difficult to explain in an isolated manner.” The news service adds Confalonieri “said the challenge today is to determine whether the climate changes seen so far have actually been a factor in the changes observed on the health front,” but noted “the few studies carried out have been isolated.” The news service discusses one such study and notes “Confalonieri, meanwhile, is getting ready to travel with a team of scientists from Peru, Ecuador and the United States to the Amazon region, to study the incidence of malaria in different settings that have been modified by human activity such as land use and the building of roads” (Frayssinet, 9/28).

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