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Be wary of disease outbreak ... Expert warns that climate change can impact health

Published:Saturday | October 10, 2015 | 4:55 PMJodi-Ann Gilpin
Clean-up work in progress at the Bridgeport Infant School in Portmore, St Catherine last week after some students attending the school were found to have contracted the infectious hand, foot and mouth disease

A CALL is being made for keen attention to be given to climate change and its impact on various sectors in society, particularly health.

Professor Michael Taylor, head of the climate studies group at the University of the West Indies, indicated that climate change and health are closely linked and, as such, more priority should be given to mitigatory efforts.

"There are strong links between climate variability and health or disease patterns. There are some obvious ones such as dengue, where one is able to see that direct link with mosquitoes," he said.

"There are others that are more indirect but which are clearly obvious, for example, when there is a drought and there is insufficient water for sanitisation and adequate washing of hands. That would contribute to something like a hand, foot and mouth (disease). Sanitisation is a key factor in preventing those kinds of diseases," he continued.

"When we look at asthma and the dry season, or even when there is a change the weather patterns, we are seeing the linkages. This is compounded by the fact that these activities are not necessarily predictable anymore, so we have to be extra cautious," Taylor said.

He urged that precautions and quick measures be implemented to mitigate against adverse effects of the phenomenon.

"We are seeing both direct and indirect linkages, and so it's critical that we bear these things in mind because it is no longer a case where we feel hot or cold, but it's the link with the quality-of-life factors, such as water or energy," he charged.