Tuesday December 10, 2019

Countries to Test Nuclear Technique that Sterilizes Mosquitoes to Control Spread of Dengue, Zika

It says every year, more than 700,000 people die from diseases such as malaria, dengue, Zika, chikungunya and yellow fever

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Countries, Nuclear Technique, Sterilizes
FILE - Adult mosquitos. VOA

U.N. agencies say early next year, several countries will begin testing a nuclear technique that sterilizes male mosquitoes to control the spread of dengue, Zika and chikungunya to humans. Guidance for testing countries has been developed by the Special Program for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization.

The World Health Organization says diseases transmitted by mosquitoes account for 17 percent of all infectious diseases globally. It says every year, more than 700,000 people die from diseases such as malaria, dengue, Zika, chikungunya and yellow fever.

The WHO says dengue has increased dramatically in recent years due to factors such as environmental changes, urban sprawl, and transportation and travel, putting half the world’s population at risk of catching the diseases.

Jeremy Bouver is a medical entomologist at the joint Food and Agriculture Organization and International Atomic Energy Agency. He says a novel technique that uses radiation to sterilize male mosquitoes offers new opportunities for controlling disease. He describes the Sterile Insect Technique as a form of insect birth control.

Countries, Nuclear Technique, Sterilizes
The World Health Organization says diseases transmitted by mosquitoes account for 17 percent of all infectious diseases globally. Pixabay

“You release sterile males that will out compete the wild males in the field and they will induce sterility in the females so that their eggs will not hatch,” Bouver said. “And, so, you will control the next generation. And, if you do that for a long time enough, you will be able to reduce and even, in some cases, eliminate the target population.”

The technique was developed in the late 1950s by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and has been successfully used to control insect pests from attacking crops and livestock, such as the Mediterranean fruit fly.

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A pilot program that will start early next year will be the first time the Sterile Insect Technique will be tested targeting human diseases.  The countries where the trials will take place will be announced next year, although a few likely candidates reportedly include the United States, France and Brazil. (VOA)

Next Story

Escalating Consequences of Climate Change Hit Countries Globally

India was ranked fifth vulnerable globally

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As Climate impacts begin to result in permanent loss and damage across the world, there is still no specific UN climate finance facility to reimburse the loss of land, culture and human lives. Pixabay

The escalating consequences of Climate change are now hitting both rich and poor countries, a report published on Wednesday said. India was ranked fifth vulnerable globally.

The Climate Risk Index 2020, an annual report by Germanwatch, ranks countries according to their vulnerability to extreme weather events.

It was released in the Spanish capital on the sidelines of the 25th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) or COP25 that is being held in the backdrop of climate impact biting globally.

According to the report, India has also been badly affected, ranking fifth in the overall global vulnerability index in 2018, ranked first in terms of fatalities and second in the world in terms of losses in millions of dollars.

India’s overall ranking has drastically fallen from 14th in 2017, to fifth in 2018.

The report shows that extreme weather, linked with climate change, is affecting not only the poorer countries like Myanmar and Haiti, but also some of the world’s richest countries.

Japan is the worst-hit country in 2018, while Germany and Canada were both also in the ‘bottom 10’ i.e. the most affected.

The results reflect the increasing damage caused by heatwaves, which scientists have found are being worsened by climate change.

To explain this drastic fall in ranking in a year, David Eckstein, Policy Advisor (Climate Finance and Investment) with Germanwatch said: “India’s high rank is due to severe rainfall, followed by heavy flooding and landslides that killed over 1,000 people.”

The state of Kerala was especially impacted. The floods were described as the worst in the last 100 years.

Climate
A report shows that extreme weather, linked with climate change, is affecting not only the poorer countries like Myanmar and Haiti, but also some of the world’s richest countries. Pixabay

According to Eckstein, India was struck by two cyclones in October and November 2018 that also nearly killed 1,000 people. Last but not least, India also suffered from extreme heat. While the human death toll was kept considerably low due to public measures, the economic damage was quite severe.

Other countries ranking in the bottom 20 in the overall climate risk categories are the US at 12th, Vietnam at sixth, Bangladesh at seventh and France at 15th.

The report also points to the importance of negotiations at COP25. As climate impacts begin to result in permanent loss and damage across the world, there is still no specific UN climate finance facility to reimburse the loss of land, culture and human lives.

So far, the industrialised countries have refused to even negotiate it.

But at COP25, for the first time, financial support for climate-related loss and damage is high on the agenda.

For the poorest and most vulnerable countries, this climate summit is, therefore, of the utmost importance. They demand that states agree a deal to support those who are suffering, or at least acknowledge the necessity, with a pathway towards real help.

Otherwise the poorest countries will continue to rely on loans to cope with the consequences of climate change, which means they are threatened with excessive debts, undermining often already vulnerable economies.

In the talks that will last till December 13, India has been ambitious in its actions.

Climate
The escalating consequences of Climate change are now hitting both rich and poor countries, a report published on Wednesday said. India was ranked fifth vulnerable globally. Pixabay

It has emphasised that developed countries should take the lead in undertaking ambitious actions and fulfil their climate finance commitments of mobilising $100 billion per annum by 2020 and progressively and substantially scale up their financial support to inform parties for future action through Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

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India is also stressing upon the need for fulfilling the pre-2020 commitments by developed countries, and that pre-2020 implementation gaps should not present an additional burden to developing countries in the post-2020 period.

The Indian delegation will be led by Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar, who is attending the summit from December 9. (IANS)