Climate Change Linked to Spread of Disease

Climate change is emerging as a major threat to health and adding pressure on public health systems, especially in Africa, a senior UN official has said.

"It causes a rise in sea levels, accelerates erosion of coastal zones, increases the intensity and frequency of natural disasters and accelerates the extinction of species," Luis Gomes Sambo, World Health Organisation (WHO) regional director for Africa, said. "The impact on human health is even greater."

Climate change, he added, is thought to directly contribute to changes in the geographic distribution of vector-borne diseases such as malaria and epidemics of meningococcal meningitis, Rift Valley fever and cholera in previously unaffected areas.

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