Global warming puts Kenyans at risk of killer malaria and TB


The risk of climate-related illness or death is increasing

Wednesday October 02 2019

Every degree rise in temperature will increase your chances of contracting diseases like tuberculosis and malaria, two of Kenya’s leading cause of death, and cost food on your table.
In the just-concluded 74th United Nations General Assembly in New York City, it emerged that the risk of climate-related illness or death is increasing as temperatures continue to rise.
The average global temperature between 2015 and 2019 is the warmest of any equivalent period on record, states the latest climate science information convened by the Science Advisory Group of the UN Climate Action Summit 2019.
“It’s currently estimated to be 1.1°C above pre-industrial (1850—1900) times and 0.20°C warmer than the global average for 2011—2015,” says the report.
And what this means is increased devastation to people around the globe, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). “Between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 250,000 additional deaths per year, from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhoea and heat stress,” stated WHO in a report.

It is the same view held by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. In a special report on the ocean and ice, human activities are responsible for global warming that is affecting oceans and leading to a decline in fish stocks, death of coral reefs, and rising sea levels that could displace millions of people across the globe. This is in addition to the fact that seawater is increasingly becoming acidic. “Acidification of the ocean dissolves corals leading to their death. Death of coral reefs impacts on fisheries directly and consequently on the community livelihood,” Dr James Kairo, a chief scientist at the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute; and coordinator of Mangrove Research Programme in Kenya, told HealthyNation.
Sea acidity has increased by 26 per cent since 1850.
“Climate change will directly impact on Blue Economy because increased temperatures will impact on marine ecosystems, notably corals, mangroves and seagrass. When these are affected, they impact directly on fisheries which is linked to blue economy,” said Dr Kairo, who is also a member of the International Blue Carbon Scientific Working Group.
According to him, rising seas will affect the stability of the shoreline and lead to displacement of communities. He proposed mangroves and seagrass be integrated into the nationally determined contributions (NDCs).
“Kenya NDCs have given a good focus on terrestrial forests, which is understandable considering that mangroves cover 60,000 hectares. But, if the blue carbon ecosystems (mangroves and seagrass) are integrated into the NDCs, we would accelerate the achievements of NDCs under Paris Agreement,” said Dr Kairo.

Marine forests cover only one per cent of the country’s three per cent gazetted forests while at least 40 per cent of mangroves are in degraded conditions.
According to the Science Advisory Group of the UN Climate Action Summit 2019, global emissions are not estimated to peak by 2030, and the current efforts are not enough to control the rise of global mean temperature to the 1.5°C goal.
In fact, temperatures may rise between 2.9°C and 3.4°C by 2100, states the report contrary to the Paris agreement to which Kenya is a signatory.
This is because nations have failed to curb greenhouse gas emissions causing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas concentrations to increase to a new level.
Increased temperatures are linked to the spread of dangerous diseases including TB and malaria. TB is caused by a bacteria which when released in the air by a sick person spreads to others through inhalation while the malaria parasite is spread through an infected female anopheles mosquito.
In a research published in the Journal of Global Infectious Diseases, TB notification rates were found to be lower at higher altitude (cold weather) and higher at a higher temperature.