Experts have noted that global warming is causing the spread of such infectious diseases as malaria and cholera into Asian and African regions where they had previously never been seen. Unfortunately, many countries lack the necessary infrastructure to respond to these worsening threats, as explained by Kenyan meteorologist Dr. Samuel Marigi in confirming the troubling cases in his country.
Dr. Samuel O. Marigi - Meteorologist, Kenyan Meteorological Department, UN IPCC delegate (M): What we have found is that diseases like malaria, which used to affect low-lying areas near the lake, have actually moved to higher grounds, which never used to be affected. And the people who are living in higher grounds have not developed any immune systems to fight the malaria. So, many people are actually suffering from the disease and many are dying, because of low immunity.
VOICE: This rising incidence of global warming-related disease has also become a priority concern in Western developed countries, as explained by Mr. José Romero, the National Focal point to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
José Romero - National Focal Point to UNFCCC, Federal Office for the Environment, Switzerland (M): I come from Switzerland and in Europe, we have now more and more tropical diseases that are imported, probably also because there is much tourism and traveling. But a concern is that if the temperature rises in Europe, then we will have even more tropical diseases like chikungunya or dengue.
VOICE: In the United States, officials have identified spreading diseases as one of the top four climate change-related security threats, expressing their concern about an overall lack of preparedness to respond to disease outbreaks. Noting that mosquito-borne dengue fever reappeared in 2009 after a 75-year absence, the previously rare West Nile virus is also now present in 44 of 50 US states.
Our thanks, Dr. Marigi, Mr. Romero, and all governments working to assess risk and help residents cope with the challenge of climate-related illnesses. Let us join in concerted efforts to stem the loss of health and lives as well as to save the planet. During a September 2009 videoconference in Peru, Supreme Master Ching Hai noted the climate-related health concerns already occurring in that country, speaking at the same time of the chance we each have to reverse the conditions of global warming altogether.