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World Health Day Observed

Apr 8, 2008, 6:47 AM | Article By: By Pa Modou Faal

The Gambia yesterday joined the rest of the world to celebrate World Health Day.

The theme of this year s celebration is "protecting health from climate change".

Addressing hundreds of school children at Arch22 in Banjul, Secretary of State for Health and Social Welfare, Dr. Malick Njie, said climate change has been taking place slowly for centuries. He added that it has recently taken a worsening and drastic turn due to the increase in human activities that disturb the natural climate pattern. He went on to tell those gathered that these activities include the increasing use of vehicles and machines that run on fossil fuels, the deforestation of the forest for the production of wood and wood products and, in The Gambia, for use as firewood. "Boys and girls climate change is a cause for concern for those of us in the health sector, drought will make us die of hunger and thirst," he said.

SoS Njie said floods can kill us directly or promote water borne diseases such as Malaria, diarrhea and Cholera, all of which cause a lot of damage to international health, changing patterns of natural disasters and the numbers of people affected.

Dr. Njie pointed out that climate change alone accounts for more than 60,000 deaths from climate  -related natural disasters every year.

The statement of the Regional Director of WHO/Africa region Dr. Luis Gomez Sambo was delivered on his behalf by WHO representative in The Gambia Dr. Nestor Shivute. He said climate change has a number of devastating effects that endanger the lives of the people in different ways noting that it accelerates the erosion of coastal zones, and it increases the frequency and intensify of Natural disasters.

"It is believed that climate change directly contributes to changes in the geographic distribution of vector-borne diseases such as Malaria and the occurrence of epidemics of Meningococcal, meningitis, Rift valley fever and cholera in previously unaffected areas," he said.

The event was marked by a drama performance and march past by schoolchildren and health officials.