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December 2022, Volume 72, Issue 12

STUDENTS’ CORNER LETTER TO THE EDITOR

The costs of protecting health in the face of climate change — feasibility lies in proactivity

Asad Saulat Fatimi  ( 2nd Year MBBS Students, Aga Khan University Medical College, Karachi, Pakistan. )
Omar Mahmud  ( 2nd Year MBBS Students, Aga Khan University Medical College, Karachi, Pakistan. )

DOI: https://doi.org/10.47391/JPMA.6641

 

Madam, climate change has and will continue to lead to unexpected weather patterns worldwide. These threaten to increase the risk of numerous diseases and disasters that negatively impact the health of populations. As a developing country, Pakistan must bolster its preparedness for such weather-related health problems by efficienty allocating resources to preventive measures and proactively implementing them.

In recent history, torrential rainfall in areas such as Karachi, which usually receive meagre amounts of annual rainfall, has left many economic and health-related issues that harm the health of the population and disrupt healthcare delivery. For example, the massive accumulation of stagnant water following heavy rainfall acts is a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Thus, urban flooding is often accompanied by an increase in mosquito-related diseases such as dengue and malaria.1,2 Furthermore, the presence of airborne and allergenic fungal spores in the environment is positively correlated with increased amounts of rainfall.3 Heavy rain damages infrastructure, such as roads and electricity lines in urban areas. In addition to the disruption of transport and utilities, such damage leads to numerous hospitalizations and deaths in incidents such as motor accidents, burns, electrocution, falling into exposed gutters, drowning, and other similar tragedies.4 Beyond these direct effects on human health, healthcare delivery and resource mobilization are also hindered,5 further hampering the responsiveness and effectiveness of the healthcare system.

While measures like disinfection drives may be useful in decreasing rain-related morbidity and mortality, a reactive approach must become an initiative-taking one. With comprehensive analyses of trends, such as those of hospitalizations during the monsoon season or the frequency of rain-related injury and disease in different areas, more informed preventive measures and "evidence-based anticipation"5 of health burdens can be devised and deployed. Programmes to promote safety measures and awareness can be tailored to the needs of at-risk communities and burdened health-care centres. The allocation of precious resources can be made to those that need them most ahead of destructive weather.

Climate change is a stark reality, as is the shortage of resources in developing countries like Pakistan. It is vital to acknowledge the profound impact of destructive weather on the public's well-being and to act efficiently and proactively to mitigate it.

 

Disclaimer: None to declare.

 

Conflict of Interest: None to declare.

 

Funding Disclosure: None to declare.

 

References

1.       World Health Organization (WHO). Dengue: Dengue in the South-East Asia [Online] 2021 [Cited 2022 January 13]. Available from URL: https://www.who.int/southeastasia/health-topics/dengue-and-severe-dengue

2.       Sabir M, Ali Y, Muhammad N. Forecasting incidence of dengue and selecting best method for prevention. J Pak Med Assoc 2018;68:1383-6.

3.       Hasnain SM, Akhter T, Waqar MA. Airborne and allergenic fungal spores of the Karachi environment and their correlation with meteorological factors. J Environ Monit 2012;14:1006-13. doi: 10.1039/c2em10545d.

4.       Hassan Q, Ali I. At least 19 killed amid urban flooding as Karachi records highest rainfall in a day ever. News release. The Dawn Media Center. [Online] 2020 [Cited 2022 January 13]. Available from URL: https://www.dawn.com/news/1576736

5.       Salas RN, Solomon CG. The Climate Crisis - Health and Care Delivery. N Engl J Med 2019;381:e13. doi: 10.1056/NEJMp1906035..

Journal of the Pakistan Medical Association has agreed to receive and publish manuscripts in accordance with the principles of the following committees: