Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:

Opinion

Record flooding in Pakistan poses major health risks

BMJ 2022; 378 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.o2148 (Published 05 September 2022) Cite this as: BMJ 2022;378:o2148

Rapid Response:

Extreme weather events and scientific research, two sides of the same coin!

Dear Editor,

The catastrophic flood which has dramatically affected in the current month of May a large area of Emilia-Romagna region, in northern Italy, reminds us once again of our national territory's intrinsic fragility. Indeed, this is the most recent within a long series of similar tragic, extreme weather events which have hit Italy throughout the last 13 years. Within such context, the main driver of which appears to be climate change, special emphasis should be placed upon global warming, keeping well in mind that the last 8 years (2015-2022) have been the hottest ever experienced by Mother Earth across the last 140 years (Di Guardo, 2023).

"How can we imagine to stay healthy in a sick world?", questioned Pope Francis in his missive written three years ago to the President of Columbia for the "World Environment Day", while the entire globe was dramatically affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, a clear-cut example - at least in part - of a climate change-driven phenomenon caused by the SARS-CoV-2 betacoronavirus!

And, while the catastrophic Emilia-Romagna's flooding event once again underscores the extremely urgent and no more postponable need to invest money, much (and never enough, anyway!) money into what I would call the "extreme weather event-related preparedness and readiness operational machine" at a national level, it should be additionally emphasized that Italy continues to invest for many years slighly more than 1% of its "inner/internal domestic product" in public research funding, which is an inadmissible situation when compared with a 2% spent on average by European Union Countries. Ironically enough, the Italian research community ranks 8th on a global scale for the prestige and quality of scientific publications, with the aforementioned, inadequate public research funding largely justifying the "brain drain" which has chronically affected our Nation for decades.

As a matter of fact, climate change, global warming and climate change-related health issues should be faced by adopting an ad hoc "change of mind" and through a multidisciplinary, transnational and transcontinental, basic and applied research effort, constantly inspired by the "One Health" concept/principle, reminding us that human, animal and environmental health are tightly and mutually linked to each other.

Last but not least, if not most importantly, the money sums invested in the "prevention" are exceedingly lower than those spent on the "therapy" of natural disasters, as the tragic flooding event occurred in Emilia-Romagna is clearly showing: this is something we should never forget.

Errare Humanum est, Perseverare autem Diabolicum!

References

Di Guardo G. (2023). Land-to-sea pathogen transfer. Veterinary Record.

Competing interests: No competing interests

24 May 2023
Giovanni Di Guardo
Retired Professor of General Pathology and Veterinary Pathophysiology
University of Teramo, Veterinary Medical Faculty, Località Piano d’Accio, 64100 Teramo, Italy
Rome, Italy