Tuesday Jan 17, 2023
DAVOS, SWITZERLAND: There has been a huge surge in malaria and tuberculosis cases in Pakistan amongst the poorest populations of the country due to recent catastrophic floods.
These revelations were made during the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos by the executive director of the world's biggest health fund in Davos on Monday.
Climate change is increasing malaria infections, said Peter Sands, the executive director of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. He added that the malaria infections followed by recent floods in Pakistan and cyclones in Mozambique in 2021 are increasing.
The increase in extreme weather events, and the resulting large pools of standing water that attract mosquitoes, are leaving poorer populations vulnerable.
He said climate change was also changing the geography of mosquitoes. The highlands of Africa, in Kenya and Ethiopia, are now succumbing to malaria because of a shift in the low temperatures that once made the area unsustainable for mosquitoes.
Sands runs the world's largest global fund, which invests in fighting tuberculosis, malaria and HIV/AIDS in some of the poorest nations in the world.
The fund, which set a target of raising $18 billion, has so far raised $15.7 billion, the largest amount of money ever raised in global health.
Part of the shortfall, he said, was a billion-dollar hit from currency fluctuations that affected donations.
Looking ahead, climate change is just one of the factors that could hamper efforts to eradicate the diseases, Sands said.
The war in Ukraine has led to a worsening of AIDS and tuberculosis. In middle-income countries such as India, Pakistan and Indonesia, tuberculosis cases amongst the poorest populations are also rising.
With fears of a global recession rising, Sands said those countries would come under increased pressure.
"I think the big concern from our perspective is what happens to health budgets in the 120 or so countries we are investing."
And even within those health budgets, how much is being taken up by COVID?"