September 30, 2010 – Original Source: The New Nation, Bangladesh
Public health professionals from a number of countries assembled in capital Dhaka to discuss the magnitude of health problems posed by climate change and give future directions to face climate-induced health challenges.
More than 200 professionals from France, India, Indonesia, Germany, Japan, Malaysia, Switzerland and host Bangladesh started dialogue today as the two-day conference kicked off in the city on Wednesday morning.
Prof Dr Moazzem Hossain, director of the communicable disease control of Directorate General of Health Services and the key host of the event, said neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) such as filariasis, snake bite, kala’azar, and rabies were discussed on the first day of the programme.
Prime Minister’s Adviser on Establishment HT Imam spoke as the chief guest while Prime Minister’s Adviser on Health Prof Dr Syed Modasser Ali inaugurated the event, hosted by government’s Communicable Disease Control department of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).
Dr Moazzem said the impacts of climate change on health is evident in sub-tropical Bangladesh as higher temperatures, frequent extreme weather events and sea level rise have already battered people’s lives in the country.
He said records show that the average summer temperature has risen over the years, exposing the country to tropical diseases such malaria, filariasis, dengue, helminthiasis, snake bites, rabies and several other neglected diseases.
He said a Dhaka declaration would be adopted from the conference, second of its kind, with specific programmes and suggestions to thwart the health challenges across the world, especially in poor countries.
He also said the neglected tropical diseases require more attention both from the government and the donor communities as the extent of such diseases has spread to much of the areas of the country.
Conservative studies show that Bangladesh is to lose between 17,000 and 22,000 square kilometers of land due to a sea level rise of 1-1.5 meter by 2050. The health impacts from climate change would be far-reaching in the country, with more people suffering from water-borne and vector-borne diseases.
The successes over the diseases such as malaria, filariasis, diarrhoea, cholera and dengue might be in jeopardy in near future due to climate change, organizers of the conference said, adding climate change has already posed a serious threat to the progress made in the health-related millennium development goals.
HT Imam said climate change has become a major concern of the country and the present government has been taking pragmatic steps in line with the changed situation of the globe.
He said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has raised her voice in the last conference of parties (COP-15) in Denmark and has again raised Bangladesh’s concern over global warming in the just- concluded UN General Assembly (UNGA).
Syed Modasser Ali said the potential impact of global warming on the transmission of NTDs did not get due attention from researchers over decades, although the evidence shows that epidemic potential for such diseases might increase by 12-27 percent as a direct consequence of higher temperature.
Director General of DGHA Prof Dr Shah Munir Hossain chaired the inaugural session, where Prof Kazuhiko Moji presented the keynote paper and chairman of Bangladesh Medical Research Council Prof Mahmud Hasan spoke as the special guest.