Climate Change Causing An Increase in Infectious Diseases

106604943-1594093255653gettyimages-1211915616 Municipal workers fumigates an areas of housing complex against Aedes Aegypti mosquitos as a measures to control a dengue outbreak amids Covid-19 pandemic (Photo by: Getty Images).

The incidence of infectious diseases is increasing on account of climate change, according to an official from the National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN).

"Climate change has a huge impact on the environment, it directly affects the health sector. Research shows that the emergence of infectious diseases is increasing along with climate change," the head of BRIN's Genetic Engineering Research Organization, Ratih Asmana Ningrum, said here on Wednesday.

She outlined some infectious diseases linked to the impact of climate change, such as zika, malaria, dengue fever, influenza, ebola, COVID-19, and mainly zoonoses that are vector-mediated. However, new infectious diseases may also become more dangerous in the future, she added.

Based on the literature, there are around 1.7 million viruses that have not been revealed in mammals and birds, and 827 thousand of them have the ability to infect humans, Ningrum informed. Therefore, protecting ecosystems and biodiversity will be crucial to preventing diseases and pandemics in the future, she said.

"Ecosystem functions are similar to those of the human body. When they are healthy, they are more resistant to disease. But when forests and other natural ecosystems are damaged, wildlife is forced to come into closer contact with farm animals and people. This creates conditions for disease to spread rapidly," she explained.

She said that the cause of climate change is also the reason for the emergence of diseases, especially infectious diseases. Thus, in this sense, the emergence of infectious diseases and even pandemics is entirely driven by human activities.

According to Ningrum, changes in the way humans use land, production patterns, and consumption that disrupts nature can disturb ecosystems and increase contact between wildlife, livestock, pathogens, and humans, resulting in the spread of disease. Such contact allows pathogens to cross between species and spread rapidly.

The concept of one health must be realized because a healthy environment and animals around humans can create healthy humans as well, she said. In addition, preparedness against disease and pandemics will also be important to save lives in the future. 

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