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Fiji Time: 9:14 PM on Sunday 20 April

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Ten times vulnerable

Repeka Nasiko
Friday, September 14, 2012

THE likelihood of an outbreak of dengue fever in Ba Town after the two floods earlier this year increased 10 times after a tropical depression.

This was revealed by Minister for Health Dr Neil Sharma while opening the three-day Pacific Regional Climate Change and Health symposium at the University of Fiji in Lautoka yesterday.

"Analysis by the joint Ministry of Health, World Health Organisation, United National Development Program piloting Climate Change Adaptation to Protect Human Health Project in Fiji shows that the likelihood of a dengue outbreak in the Ba sub-division increased 10 times after a tropical depression compared to periods without tropical depression," Dr Sharma said.

He said both floods had been caused by tropical depressions and the resulting outbreaks were not only confined to communicable diseases. "There were serious outbreaks of communicable diseases in the Western Division following the floods. Malnutrition, and interestingly, sexually transmitted diseases and the continued lack of supply of some fruit and vegetables were also notable," he said.

Dr Sharma said those high intensity rainfall events occurred within a space of three months. He also revealed that in the Suva subdivision, the incidence of diarrhoea was higher during months with less than 100millimetres of rainfall.

"Similarly, outbreaks of other communicable diseases like leptospirosis and typhoid are correlated with average climate conditions." Dr Sharma said steps were being taken to address those issues.