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Environmental health - Amazon

Amazon links to Environmental Health

June 19 2015

As much as a quarter of the global burden of disease has been attributed to poor environmental quality, so much so that analysts have took to the Brazilian Amazon to study the ways environmental health influences human disease.

Subhrendu Pattanayak of Duke University and her team have gathered data on 700 municipalities throughout the Amazon examining three major disease types that can be linked to environmental quality: Malaria, Diarrhoea and Acute respiratory infection.

The report showed that diagnosis of these diseases were lower in strictly protected areas, with Malaria rising in areas with roads and mines and Diarrhoea having a lower impact in indigenous areas.

“Strict land protection slows deforestation and discourages people who are susceptible to malaria and other diseases from interacting with the forest. That helps these areas to serve as a barrier to disease transmission. By contrast, malaria incidence was higher when roads were present. Roads did appear to have a benefit when it came to diarrheal diseases, perhaps because they link people to medical services, the researchers posit” says co-author Erin Sills.

Overall, the team estimates that Brazil’s move to increase protected areas led to reductions of malaria, diarrhoea and acute respiratory infections by 6%, 2%and 1.5% respectively.

Brazil now faces the challenge of consolidating its network of protected areas and preventing illegal logging and deforestation, says Sills although the study also proves the well-functioning ecosystem of protected zones is ‘paying off by keeping people from falling sick.’

Source Smithsonian Mag 

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