Unchecked greenhouse emissions can put over 8 billion people at risk of malaria, dengue: Study

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A study, led by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and published in The Lancet Planetary Health journal, has revealed that this 'worst case scenario' is likely if temperatures rise by about 3.7 degrees Celsius by 2,100 compared to pre-industrial levels.

Unchecked greenhouse emissions can put over 8 billion people at risk of malaria, dengue: Study
An estimated 8.4 billion people could be at risk of suffering from malaria and dengue by the turn of the century if the greenhouse gas emissions remain unchecked.
A study, led by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and published in The Lancet Planetary Health journal, has revealed that this 'worst case scenario' is likely if temperatures rise by about 3.7 degrees Celsius by 2,100 compared to pre-industrial levels.
"For malaria, the modelling for the worst-case scenario estimated a total of 8.4 billion people being at risk in 2078 (i.e. 89.3 percent of an estimated global population of 9.4 billion) compared with an average of 3.7 billion over the period 1970-1999 (i.e. 75.6 percent of an estimated global population of 4.9 billion). For dengue, the modelling estimated a total of 8.5 billion people at risk in 2080 compared with an average of 3.8 billion in 1970-1999," the study read.
The rise in global temperature due to greenhouse emissions will provide more suitable months for malaria transmission, adds the report. However, the study points out that the threat can be averted if significant steps are taken to reduce global emissions.
“This work strongly suggests that reducing greenhouse gas emissions could prevent millions of people from contracting malaria and dengue. The results show low-emission scenarios significantly reduce length of transmission, as well as the number of people at risk. Action to limit global temperature increases well below 2°C must continue,” said Dr Felipe J Colón-González, Assistant Professor at LSHTM.
He cautioned that policymakers and public health officials should start preparing for the worst-case scenario, just in case.  “This (preparing for an outbreak) is particularly important in areas that are currently disease-free and where the health systems are likely to be unprepared for major outbreaks.”
Two major mosquito-borne diseases, malaria and dengue, are gradually emerging in previously unaffected places and re-emerging in places where they had subsided for decades, found the study. Due to the rising pollution and the consequent rise in global temperatures, malaria is reaching higher altitudes. Besides, the risk of dengue is greater in urban centres, according to the report.
The researchers predict that the population at risk of malaria and dengue will be higher in densely populated urban areas in the World Health Organization (WHO)’s African region, South-East Asia region and the region of North and South America.
Meanwhile, the authors acknowledged that they did not consider factors like socioeconomic development, disease and vector evolution, or the development of more effective drugs and vaccines — all of which could lead to important differences in the amount of risk simulated.

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