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Poverty Times #1

Resistant to disease

The widespread use of pesticides and antibiotics to control bacteria, parasites and vectors are accelerating insect and bacteria resistance and the spread of disease. According to the WRI and others, some 30 new infectious diseases, such as Lyme disease, Ebola and Lassa fever, have emerged in the last two decades (1). Moreover, previously controlled diseases are returning in more virulent forms. By An. Ba. and Ma. Sn.

Modification of the environment has contributed to the increased spread of disease. For instance, deforestation, desalination of mangrove areas and, some say, climate change have caused much of the resurgence of malaria, which now claims millions of deaths, mostly in Africa.

The poor are most affected by resistant strains since they usually do not have access to preventative measures (potable water, vaccinations) and cannot afford them. Many urban poor live in crowded, polluted areas that invite disease. Vigorous control programmes and consistent, holistic epi-demiological strategies are needed to help curb this growth of disease, especially among the poor.

An. Ba. and Ma. Sn.

1. World Resources 1998-99; Environmental Change & Human Health, WRI in collaboration with UNDP, UNEP, World Bank, Washington DC, 1998.