Climate change affecting physical, mental health of Bangladeshis: World Bank
Weather variations in Bangladesh, caused by climate change, is leading to an increase in the spread of infectious diseases and affecting mental health of people, says a new World Bank Report.
It is especially affecting mental health of those living in large cities like Dhaka and Chattogram, adds the report.
The report, titled "The Climate Afflictions Report", finds a link between shifting climatic conditions and the increase in respiratory, waterborne, and mosquito-borne diseases as well as mental health issues.
Over the past 44 years, Bangladesh experienced a 0.5°C temperature increase, the report says, adding that the temperatures of Bangladesh are predicted to rise by 1.4 degree Celsius by 2050.
Not only the summers are getting hotter and longer, winters are warmer, and the monsoon seasons are being extended from February to October.
With further climate change predicted, more physical and mental health issues are likely to emerge.
The most vulnerable are children and the elderly.
Erratic weather conditions played a key role in the 2019 dengue outbreak in Dhaka city, where 77 percent of the country's total dengue-related deaths occurred.
In 2019, Dhaka recorded more than three times the average February rainfall followed by high temperature and humidity between March and July.
Compared to monsoon, the likelihood of contracting an infectious disease is about 20 percent points lower in the dry season. Respiratory illnesses rise with increase in temperature and humidity, the report adds.
With the rise of temperature, more people are likely to suffer from respiratory illnesses.
The weather pattern also affects mental health. More people suffer from depression during winter while the level of anxiety disorders increases with temperature and humidity. Furthermore, women are at higher risk than men of depression, while men are more susceptible to anxiety, the report adds.
The report further suggests that by strengthening health systems, Bangladesh can deal with outbreaks of infectious and other climate-sensitive diseases.
"With more evidence showing a pronounced impact of climate change on physical and mental health, Bangladesh needs to build on its success in adaptations to ensure a stronger health system that averts outbreaks of emerging climate-sensitive diseases," said Mercy Tembon, World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh and Bhutan, during the virtual launch of the report.
"Going forward, by ensuring stronger data collection, Bangladesh can better track the evolution of climate-sensitive diseases," said Iffat Mahmud, World Bank Senior Operations Officer and co-author of the report.