25 June 2012

Nigeria: Climate Change - Medical Scientist Decries Impact On Maternal Health

THE impact of climate change on maternal health as well as its associated effects on global health through changing patterns of disease, water and food insecurity among others, has again come to the fore.

At the end of the 47th Annual Scientific Conference of the Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria, AMLSN, participants recommended for a new advocacy by public health organisations needed to urgently bring together all stakeholders from diverse disciplines to address the effects of climate change.

In a keynote address, entitled Impact of Climate Change on Maternal and Child Health: Ameliorative Role of the Translational Medicine" , Professor John Anetor, a professor of Chemical Pathology at the Department of Chemical Pathology, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, described the impact of climate change as the biggest health threat of the 21st Century.

He said: "It has been observed that though vector- borne diseases will spread beyond traditional boundaries, the indirect effects of climate change on water supply, food security, and extreme climate events will most probably have the biggest effect on global health."

Anetor, noted that most vulnerable sub-populations affected are women and children on whom the perpetuation of the human race depends.

"If current collective efforts at curtailing these damaging effects of man's relentless activity are not sustained the existence of man will be threatened."

Anetor canvassed that scientists, especially biomedical scientists must respond by being more creative in conducting more research, but more importantly they must translate these results to ameliorate the inevitable exacerbation of maternal and child morbidity and or mortality with an eye on the precautionary principle.

He noted that eclampsia, haemorrhage and unsafe abortion are common causes of high maternal mortality in Nigeria, and regretted that recent reports indicate that environmental pollution that increases with climate change is a factor.

He said the link between climate change and disease must be understood and necessary actions and policies instituted including the principle of host resistance. "Appropriate public health systems with an inclination for maternal and child health should be put in place to address adverse outcomes.", he added

Further, he called for setting up of policies and facilities to make all health workers especially scientists sufficiently motivated to be involved in translational medicine in putting medical science at the service of society.

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