Press Release
April 3, 2011

Legarda: Climate Change Causes More Deaths Due to Diseases

Senator Loren Legarda today urged the Department of Health (DOH) to improve its public health services and ensure early prevention and control of diseases as it was found that climate change is a major factor in the increase of deaths due to various illnesses.

Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change, said that according to a study, Climate Vulnerability Monitor 2010, it is not disasters but diseases that cause the most number of deaths by climate change.

She noted that there had been at least 13,821 patients afflicted with dengue already admitted in hospitals across the country from January to February of 2011. In Metro Manila alone, there were 3,640 dengue cases, a 106-percent increase from the figures recorded last year according to the DOH.

"This rise in dengue cases is a cause for alarm, especially because our country is one of the most vulnerable to vector-borne diseases," said Legarda.

The report that was conducted by the Development Assistance Research Associates (DARA), an international organization that monitors aid to victims of conflict, disasters and climate change, also states that although the Philippines' climate and location naturally assist in the proliferation of dengue, "higher temperatures and more humid climates caused by climate change favor the growth in the populations of insects and vectors that spread diseases."

The study further revealed that there are large gaps in adaptation policies, including health, making up just 3% of priority adaptation projects despite serious projected impacts over a range of health concerns.

According to the report, an estimated 350,000 people die each year due to major diseases and health disorders related to climate change. Unless measures are taken, by 2030, climate change will increase its toll to more than 800,000 deaths per year.

"Now more than ever, it is of utmost importance that we put more effort into the prevention and control of climate-related diseases, and enhance the DOH's capacity for early warning for any outbreak," the Senator stressed.

"I urge the DOH to strengthen their initiatives on disease and health surveillance. Furthermore, the DOH must enhance its awareness campaigns on climate-sensitive diseases, not limited to dengue but including pulmonary infections, malaria, cholera, heatstroke, and skin infections," Legarda concluded.

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