Intended for healthcare professionals

Climate change and communicable diseases

In recent decades, the worldwide burden of infectious disease has fallen, thanks to sanitation, hygiene, and prevention and control efforts. But the covid-19 pandemic shows how great a threat to global health remains - particularly as the climate crisis continues to affect disease spread and our response in myriad ways.

Increasing temperatures are expanding the areas where diseases such as malaria and dengue thrive. More flooding and drought increases disease risk. Hygiene requires access to clean water. Further urbanization and migration related to climate change will also complicate prevention and control.

This collection, commissioned for the 2020 Virtual WISH summit, considers the key threats and showcases evidence informed solutions to monitor, prevent, and control outbreaks.



Analysis

Strengthening the global response to climate change and infectious disease threats
Climate change is an important driver of disease incidence, and a wait and see approach invites unnecessary risk, write Jeremy Hess and colleagues. Governments, funders, researchers, and practitioners must act now.

Tracking infectious diseases in a warming world
Using infectious diseases sensitive to climate as indicators of climate change helps stimulate and inform public health responses, write Kris A Murray and colleagues.

Ecosystem perspectives are needed to manage zoonotic risks in a changing climate
Better understanding of how environmental changes affect pathogens, hosts, and disease vectors can help prevent and respond to zoonoses, write Rory Gibb and colleagues.

Scaling up cross border cooperation to tackle climate and disease threats
Examples of effective forums already exist in the Middle East, finds Ingrid Torjesen. Replication and expansion will be needed to tackle looming health threats.

Emerging arboviruses in the urbanized Amazon rainforest
Degradation of rainforest, extreme weather events, and climate change affect the spread of mosquito borne diseases like dengue, chikungunya, and Zika, write Rachel Lowe and colleagues. Urgent action is needed.

Schistosomiasis and climate change
Giulio A De Leo and colleagues consider the effect of changing climates and human activity on schistosomiasis transmission and potential solutions to contain its spread.

Opinion

Malaria, mangroves, and migration: challenges for small island developing states in the Caribbean

Better data are crucial for mitigating threats in the Middle East



This collection was launched at the World Innovation Summit for Health, 15-19 November 2020. Funding for the articles, including open access fees, was provided by the World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH), which is an initiative of the Qatar Foundation. The BMJ commissioned, peer reviewed, edited, and made the decision to publish these articles.

Jeremy Hess and Rachel Lowe guest edited this collection, with the support of advisory panel members Muna Al Maslamani, Laura-Lee Boodram, Shlomit Paz, Anna Stewart Ibarra and Judith Wasserheit. Richard Hurley and Kamran Abbasi were the lead editors for The BMJ.