Bangladesh’s medical system is being overwhelmed as it battles its worst recorded rash of dengue fever, leaving over 300 people dead. So far this year in Bangladesh, more than 63,000 people have been infected by the mosquito-vectored “breakbone fever”.
“Dengue is a problem linked mostly with climate change, and we need to find ways to mitigate its impacts on every country level,” the WHO’s Raman Velayudhan said last week. On the other side of the Indian subcontinent, 1,200 miles west of Bangladesh, the toll of the massive flooding in Pakistan a year ago has been tallied in very human terms in a new report.
Islamic Relief Worldwide calculated the floods last year, which killed more than 1,700 people, submerged a third of the country and set off a raft of water- and vector-borne diseases, also stunted the growth of 40% of children in affected areas, with women, girls, and especially pregnant women and new mothers particularly harmed.
“No amount of financial aid can compensate those who have lost loved ones and seen their homes and everything they own destroyed. But we need to see climate justice, where the biggest polluters pay for the damage and destruction caused by climate change,” Waseem Ahmad, of IRW, told reporters. “As climate-related catastrophes increase, it is the poorest and most vulnerable people who bear the brunt of the suffering. They are the ones most likely to live in fragile homes and least likely to have savings to fall back on, or assets to sell, or any kind of ‘Plan B’ when floods hit and crops and livestock are wiped out.”
Among those “Plan Bs” is an increasing number of girls sold off as child brides. (Bangladesh: Washington Post $; Pakistan: The Guardian; Climate Signals background: Vector-borne disease risk increase)