ISLAMABAD: With perilous manifestations of global warming, environmental degradation and shift in monsoon patterns predicted in the future, Pakistan will also have to battle dengue outbreaks in areas where the virus had never spread before.
A new study titled ‘Modelling the impact of climate change on dengue outbreaks and future spatiotemporal shift in Pakistan’ said the virus will reach the non-vulnerable high-altitude areas due to the impact of climate change.
Dengue, a viral infection transmitted to humans through the bite of infected mosquitoes, is usually found in tropical and subtropical climates where the temperature remains warm for most of the year.
However, the study, carried out by scientists and experts from the Global Change Impact Studies Centre (GCISC), Health Services Academy (HSA) and the National Institute of Health (NIH), stated that dengue transmission suitable days (DTSD) would spread across Pakistan’s northern areas in near future.
New report says Pakistan’s north vulnerable to infection
“Our findings indicate that DTSD would spread across Pakistan, particularly in areas where we have never seen dengue infections previously,” the researchers said.
In the wake of rising temperatures, the researchers noted that high-altitude cities like Kotli, Muzaffarabad and Drosh in the 2020s; Garhi Dopatta, Quetta, and Zhob in the 2050s; and Chitral and Bunji in the 2080s, will see an “elevation-dependent shift” in DTSD.
Meanwhile, Karachi, Islamabad, and Balakot will remain highly vulnerable to dengue outbreaks throughout the twenty-first century, the study cautioned.
The research identified Karachi, Hyderabad, Sialkot, Jhelum, Lahore, Islamabad, Balakot, Peshawar, Kohat, and Faisalabad as the top ten hotspot cities with a higher DTSD frequency.
“The good news is that the DTSD in current hotspot cities is projected to decrease in the future due to climate change,” it said.
While cautioning about a “temporal shift” in the region during the post- and pre-monsoon season, the report urged the authorities to take adaptation and mitigation actions as the season provides suitable breeding conditions for dengue mosquitoes due to freshwater.
Pakistan, which is already grappling with the disaster caused by floods, faced a surge in dengue cases since mid-June 2022 due to stagnated water in most of the flood-affected areas, according to the World Health Organisation.
Published in Dawn, November 23rd, 2022