ISLAMABAD: A medical expert on Saturday emphasised on the need to hammer out a national climate change awareness plan to boost Pakistan’s response to climate risks and build up climate resilience through adaptation measures in various socio-economic sectors, particularly water, energy and food. Senior Physician Dr Qayumm Raza said climatic change is greatly associated with respiratory and allergic disorders.
He added that the higher occurrence of poisonous substances and the increasing quantity of urban population are resulting in major environmental hazards that are toxic to human life.
“Increasing the youth’s awareness on climate change must be considered in climate change adaptation in the country,” he added. He said scientists and medical professionals have been working hard to rule out the accurate cause behind idiopathic seasonal respiratory diseases and skin allergies as their specific root cause has never been highlighted by anyone due to a lack of knowledge and resources. Media should also play its role by organising seminars and conducting special programmes in this regard.
He suggested that if we are willing to reduce the burden of allergic and respiratory symptoms, we must control environmental factors that worsen these conditions.
Dr Raza mentioned that over the past three decades global temperature has been rising markedly.
This temperature increase has resulted in warming ocean temperatures, rising sea levels, melting glaciers, retreating sea ice and diminished snow cover in the northern hemisphere.
“This aggressive climatic change is associated with respiratory and allergic disorders.
The increased length and severity of the pollen season, the higher occurrence of heavy precipitation events and the increasing frequency of urban population are resulting in major environmental hazards that are lethal to human life,” he maintained.
Air pollution consisting of particulate matter (i.e. dust mites, organic dust substances, diesel exhaust and organic salts) and atmospheric pollens can blunt an individual’s immune system that eventually results in enhancement of allergic and respiratory diseases for instance particulate matter resulting from the burning of fuel or organic matter increases allergen specific levels that cause airway inflammation and hypersensitivity,” Dr Raza said. Global warming, he said has a tremendous economic and health care impact in the form of loss of working hours and increased need for care among privileged populations.
He further highlighted that air-pollution related asthma exacerbation is due to climactic factors that favor the accumulation of air pollutants at soil level.
The ongoing increase in air pollution encourages growth of poison ivy which secretes urishiol, a compound that causes contact dermatitis. Dr Raza went on to add that these skin allergies such as hives, urticaria, contact dermatitis, hay fever, and eczema is completely curable provided that we opt for reasonable and self-assuring treatment options similarly respiratory diseases as in asthma are curable as well.
Moreover he stated that the present government is making all-out efforts to deal with climate risks, though much of these efforts go unnoticed due to lack of awareness about the efforts.
He also stressed upon the need for adequate budgetary allocations for tackling environmental degradation.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 23rd, 2018.