Disease surveillance by the WHO shows mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue fever are rising sharply.
Climate change forecasters have warned for years that the warmer and wetter world created by the climate crisis will drive a surge in mosquito-borne diseases, such as malaria and dengue fever.
Experts say that in the Pacific Islands, such predictions are now becoming a reality.
The regional development organisation, the Pacific Community, says between 2012 and 2021, its Pacific island members recorded 69 outbreaks of dengue fever, 12 outbreaks of Zika virus and 15 of Chikungunya virus. The diseases, which can sometimes be fatal, are all transmitted by mosquitoes that thrive in warm, humid conditions.
Disease surveillance by the World Health Organization shows that in the Solomon Islands, for instance, malaria cases rose by 40 percent between 2015 and 2021. Papua New Guinea saw incidences of malaria rise by 5 percent over the same period, with a 25 percent increase in related deaths.
“We are really concerned about vector-borne diseases, mainly because they are a serious public health problem. Dengue fever is of increasing concern because it can lead to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can lead to death. Also, Zika has recently emerged and there is evidence that it can cause congenital defects in babies,” Dr Salanieta Saketa, a senior epidemiologist in the Pacific Community’s public health division in Fiji, told Al Jazeera.
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