Climate crisis fuels dengue fever: Five million cases and 5,500 deaths, Save the Children Deutschland eV, Story

The children’s rights organization Save the Children warns of the spread of dengue fever on the occasion of Health Day at the UN Climate Change Conference. The number of infected people has reached a new high this year against the backdrop of the El Niño phenomenon. At least 5,500 people died in the 20 most affected countries. Almost five million people were infected with the mosquito-borne disease, 30 percent more than in the previous year.

On December 3rd, the UN Climate Change Conference is holding a health day for the first time. Save the Children welcomes the recognition of the immense health impacts of the climate crisis and calls on participants to put protecting children’s health at the center of climate negotiations.

“Illnesses like dengue fever, which are exacerbated by extreme weather events, primarily burden children – in the long term,” says Patricia Kramarz, health expert at Save the Children Germany and participant at COP28. “The UN Climate Change Conference is the right place to declare war on these diseases. We need strong health systems around the world that can respond appropriately to the impacts of the climate crisis.”

According to the US Center for Disease Control, an estimated 1.3 billion children – more than one in two – live in countries where dengue fever outbreaks are common. Young children are particularly susceptible to the disease because of their weak immune systems.

“Dengue fever turns children’s lives upside down. Not only are they becoming ill, they are unable to attend school, and their families are put under emotional and financial strain,” said Save the Children’s Asia health and nutrition expert Dr. Yasir Arafat. “We need targeted measures in communities, but also support from governments. Because the fight against mosquitoes, the diagnosis of dengue fever and the treatment – ​​all of this cannot be left to the health authorities alone.”

While the climate crisis is already promoting diseases such as dengue fever, the increasingly frequent El Niño phenomenon is making the problem even worse. According to data from the World Health Organization (WHO) in July, the number of dengue cases has increased eightfold in just two decades: from about half a million in 2000 to more than 4.2 million in 2022. Almost 70 percent of dengue -Fever-threatened world population lives in the Asia-Pacific region. In 2023, most deaths from dengue fever occurred in Bangladesh and most infections in Brazil.

Notes for editors:

  • Save the Children identified the countries that had reported at least 20 dengue deaths as of November 23, 2023, and examined trends in deaths in these countries using data from governments, the World Health Organization and other international organizations. This analysis found that at least 5,562 people died from dengue and 5,046,627 cases were recorded during this period.
  • The 20 countries with the most deaths reported between January and November 2023 were (in order from highest to lowest): Bangladesh, Brazil, Philippines, Burkina Faso, Indonesia, Peru, Thailand, India, Mexico, Guatemala, Bolivia, Colombia, Malaysia, Argentina, Sudan, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Vietnam, Ecuador and Nepal.
  • Dengue fever causes flu-like symptoms such as high fever, pain behind the eyes, rash, and severe headaches and body aches. In the most severe cases, dengue hemorrhagic fever or potentially fatal shock syndrome may occur.
  • Save the Children also offers treatment for patients with dengue fever as part of health projects. The children’s rights organization is also committed to prevention together with schools and communities.

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