A new film showcases Professor Amir Sapkota, chair of the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, and his research team’s efforts to create an early warning system in Nepal for diarrheal diseases tied to extreme weather events.
“The Flow of Change” highlights how the Addressing Extreme Weather Related Diarrheal Disease Risks in the Asia-Pacific Region (AWARD-APR) team collaborates with Nepalese communities on the warning system, which uses historical disease data to identify areas at risk for increased diarrheal disease in the near future.
“Climate change is already making people sick, and in some cases, killing people,” said Dr. Sapkota, the project’s principal investigator. “Even if we are very successful with our mitigation efforts, the increases in extreme weather events we are experiencing will continue for the foreseeable future.”
Diarrheal infections spread through contaminated food or drinking-water or from person to person due to poor hygiene. The disease depletes the body of fluids and can result in profound dehydration and even death. It also has a detrimental impact on childhood growth and cognitive development.
In Nepal, for every one degree centigrade increase in temperature, the incidence of diarrheal disease increases by 4.4%. But that figure varies by region. In the mountainous regions, the incidence can increase by as much as 9%.
“We need proactive measures like our early warning system for diarrheal disease to help communities adapt to public health threats of climate change,” Dr. Sapkota said. “By alerting communities of the risk in advance, we can save lives.”
- School of Public Health
- Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics