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EDITORIAL ANALYSIS : With climate change, tackling new disease scenarios

 

Source: The Hindu

  • Prelims: Current events of national importance, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Nipah virus, The Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) etc
  • Mains GS Paper I & II: Development and management of social sectors/services related to Health and education etc

ARTICLE HIGHLIGHTS

  • The latest report released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) delivers a stark warning: climate change heightens the global risk of infectious diseases.

 

INSIGHTS ON THE ISSUE

Context

Health:(WHO)

  • A certain totality of health to the realms of mental and social well-being and happiness beyond physical fitness, and an absence of disease and disability.
  • We cannot achieve health in its wider definition without addressing health determinants.

Changed pattern of relationship between climate and diseases:

  • The periodicity of mosquito-borne disease outbreaks no longer follows expected patterns.
  • Dengue manifests in two to three peaks throughout the year.
  • Variability in temperature, precipitation, and humidity disrupt disease transmission cycles.
    • These alter the distribution of the vectors and animal reservoirs that host the parasite.
  • Heat interferes with the genomic structure of pathogens, changing their infectivity and virulence.

 

How can Climate change lead to more infections?

  • Habitat loss forces disease-carrying animals to encroach upon human territory
    • It increases the risk of human-animal interaction and the transfer of pathogens from wildlife to humans.
  • Viruses which do not harm animals can be fatal for humans.
    • Nipah virus(outbreaks in Kerala for many years now, is a good example.
  • Analysis of 2022 published in Nature Climate Change warns that humans now face a broader spectrum of infectious agents than ever before.
    • Over half of all-known infectious diseases threatening humans worsen with changing climate patterns.
  • Diseases often find new transmission routes, including environmental sources, medical tourism, and contaminated food and water from once-reliable sources.
  • Ecosystems shape local climates, climate change is transforming ecosystems.
    • This dynamic introduces invasive species and extends the range of existing life forms.
    • The trigger upheavals in ecosystems confound ecologists and epidemiologists to predict outbreaks.
  • The climatic shifts are manifesting in severe health crises, including a dengue epidemic in Dhaka (Bangladesh) and Kolkata

 

Impact on India:

  • The Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) was rolled out in a few States in 2007.
    • It reported 553 outbreaks in 2008, it last reported 1,714 in 2017.
    • It was phased out in favor of a web-enabled, near-real-time electronic information system called Integrated Health Information Platform (IHIP).
    • It added 20 additional disease conditions over IDSP 13
    • It could present disaggregated data to its users.
    • The programme, which has enabled real-time tracking of emerging disease outbreaks, has not delivered on expectations.

 

One Health approach:

  • It integrates monitoring human, animal, plant, and environmental health, recognises this interconnectedness.
  • It is pivotal in preventing outbreaks, especially those that originate from animals.
  • It encompasses zoonotic diseases, neglected tropical diseases, vector-borne diseases, antimicrobial resistance, and environmental contamination.

 

Way Forward

  • Mitigating the spread of climate change-induced diseases requires safeguarding ecosystems, curbing greenhouse gas emissions, and implementing active pathogen surveillance.
  • India must launch One Health and infectious disease control programmes by building greater synergies between the Centre and States and their varied specialized agencies.
  • Animal husbandry, forest and wildlife, municipal corporations, and public health departments need to converge and set up robust surveillance systems.
    • They will need to build trust and confidence, share data, and devise logical lines of responsibility and work with a coordinating agency.
    • With new World Bank and other large funding in place, this will need greater coordination and management.
  • Climate change is not limited to infectious diseases: It exacerbates injuries and deaths from extreme weather events, respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, and mental health issues.
  • The re-emergence of Nipah in Kerala is a wake-up call, that mere biomedical response to diseases is inadequate.

 

QUESTION FOR PRACTICE

Besides being a moral imperative of the Welfare State, primary health structure is a necessary precondition for sustainable development.” Analyze.(UPSC 2021) (200 WORDS, 10 MARKS)