THE impacts of climate change on our weather patterns are a serious threat to our ongoing health problems which needs the attention of our policy makers, Dr Edgar Pollard has warned.
Dr Edgar is a hybrid ecologist, working with interrelated systems in environment, business and health in the Solomon Islands.
Speaking during the Climate Justice Dialogue and Symposium in Honiara recently, he highlighted that Climate change, change our weather patterns, and this can lead to the increase of vector borne diseases in the country.
The Solomon Islands is one of the highest malaria burdened countries outside of Africa
Two strains of malaria are present within the Solomon Islands, Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium falciparum.
The latter is the most dangerous of the human strains of malaria, and can be fatal if treatment is delayed more than 24 hours after the onset of clinical symptoms.
Dr Edgar confirmed in his presentation stating that this cannot be left unnoticed as the global phenomena climate change will have a part to create this health problem.
“Just for your information, malaria is on the rise. Now the malaria mosquito which spread the disease usually breeds in mixture of salt and pure water.
“The rising sea levels in our coastal areas are increasing the natural habitat for anopheles mosquitos which would increase malaria cases.
“The changing weather pattern will have a huge impact on this, if there is more rain fall, we are expecting more dengue mosquito to be on the rise as well,’’ said Dr Edgar.
Solomon Islands have recently experiencing extreme rainfall which resulted in floods in Honiara and other provinces.
According to Noelle O’Brien is Principal Climate Specialist at the Asian Development Bank presentation on Climate Change, Small Island Countries in Asia-Pacific five case studies involving Apia, Cairns, Fua’amotu, Funafuti, Honiara
O’Brien said that number of extreme rainfall days per year for Fua’amotu and Honiara increased
“All five locations experienced an increasing trend in the intensity of the wettest day each year
“All five locations experienced an increasing trend in the total amount of rainfall associated with the five wettest days per year.
“Based on the revised relationship – the expectation is that the 4 °C increase in temperature may result in a 40% increase in rainfall,” said O’Braen.
Meanwhile, Dr Edgar also added that non communicable disease such as diabetes is on the rise in the country that needs more attention to the health care of this nation.
He further stressed that we need to have our own local research and assessment so we can come up with our own local facts, data and evidence in our local context.
“These evidences then can be used by our policy makers to develop and making decisions or policies to guide what is actually happening on the ground instead of using overseas context which sometimes not applicable to our situation,” he added.
Dr Edgaralso challenged the country’s policy makers that climate change needs to be mainstreamed through all Ministries, NGOs, private sectors to be included in policy, planning and programs of every organizations and ministries.
The Ministry for Health and Medical Services did not have a department that focuses on climate change.
This is a health pandemic, we must priorities climate change,” stated Dr Edgar Pollard.
By ANDREW FANASIA