Backgrounder No. 25

A substantial portion of the projected disease burden induced by climate change will manifest in increased infectious disease, including diarrheal disease, especially in less developed countries (Confalonieri et al, 2007: 391-431; WHO, 2009). Globally, diarrheal disease accounts for approximately 4.8 percent of the annual burden of disease, resulting in an estimated 2.2 million deaths every year. Eighty-eight percent of these deaths are attributable to unsafe water (Prüss-Üstün et al, 2008; WHO, 2008; Prüss-Üstün et al, 2004).

In Africa, diarrheal disease accounts for 8.8 percent of the continent’s total disease burden, resulting in 1 million deaths per year (WHO, 2008). This high burden of diarrheal disease is expected to be compounded by climate change as warm temperatures — which promote the growth of pathogens — are projected to be higher in the future than past global averages (Bates et al, 2008).

Narrowing in on Uganda, the health-related impacts of climate change are expected to hit hard. In particular, the burden of diarrheal disease is expected to increase dramatically.

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