August 19, 2016

Intensify our response to the coming of record-high El Niño

This year’s El Niño is expected to bring about a major global increase in health hazards in many parts of the world until the end of this year, the World Health Organisation said in its news report yesterday. The report estimates that 60 million people will be vulnerable to climate hazards, such as severe drought, flooding, heavy rains and temperature rises, all of which can lead to food insecurity, malnutrition, disease outbreaks, acute water shortages and the disruption of health services.
The impact El Niño is likely to have on public health is unavoidable, with Director of WHO’s Emergency Risk Management and Humanitarian Response Department Dr Richard Brennan urging world nations to speed up their preparedness and response measures to prevent unwanted mortality.
Weather experts expect its effects to peak in the first quarter of this year and trigger adverse climate conditions affecting the health of millions of vulnerable people in the tropics, with drier conditions forecast in Southeast Asia as well. Last July and August, our country underwent the unusual heavy rains that caused the widespread flooding in 12 of 14 states and regions.
U Tun Lwin, a former director general of the Department of Meteorology and Hydrology, has warned on his Facebook of extreme drought and acute water shortages in the arid regions of the country. The time has come for all of us to take preventive measures to raise public awareness of El Niño-related hazards and health risks. Though death is a natural phenomenon, deaths resulting from preventable causes are intolerable.


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