Temperature variability and occurrence of diarrhoea in children under five-years-old in Cape Town Metropolitan sub-districts

Temperature variability and occurrence of diarrhoea in children under five-years-old in Cape Town Metropolitan sub-districts

Diarrhoea is among the main causes of morbidity and mortality in children within the developing world. According to the (2007) Intergovernmen al Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, there is an expected increase in the global annual average temperature by 2100, which could result in increased temperatures and rainfall in many areas of the globe, causing significant temperature variability in the future. It was reported that with a change in climatic parameters such as average temperatures and rainfall, the rate of certain health conditions i.e., thermal stress and infectious diseases increases. It is worth noting that children under five years old are susceptible to the problem of climate-sensitive diseases with estimates ranging from 10% to 20% of populations in areas with limited capacity to manage the health impact of climate change. Increasing evidence has emphasized the seasonal relationship between the peak of diarrhoea occurrence and climatic factors such as the rainy season and high temperatures in developing countries. The link existing between climate parameters and diarrhoeal disease can be expected to fluctuate with different causal agents such as rotavirus, norovirus, Giardia, Cryptosporidium and pathogenic Escherichia coli, Campylobacter and Salmonella.

This paper describes the relationship between temperature change and diarrhoea in under five-year-old children in the Cape Town Metropolitan Area (CTMA) of South Africa. The study used climatic and aggregated surveillance diarrhoea incidence data of two peak periods of seven months each over two consecutive years. A Poisson regression model and a lagged Poisson model with autocorrelation was performed to test the relationship between climatic parameters (minimum and maximum temperature) and incidence of diarrhoea.

The paper concludes that there was an association between an increase in minimum and maximum temperature, and the rate at which diarrhoea affected children under the age of five years old in the Cape Town Metropolitan Area. This finding may have implications for the effects of global warming and requires further investigation.

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