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CLIMATE IMPACT - HEALTH N°1 BY GENERALI Climate warming and infectious diseases

In close collaboration with a group of experts, Generali, official COP21 partner, stresses the links between climate and health throughout the summit.

In its capacity as an insurance company, Generali has a wide-ranging concern for climate change (cyclones, storms, precipitation, droughts and heat waves, etc.) and its impacts both on us and our clients and in the way in which these new risks have to be taken into account. The damage to the environment will continue to grow while the impacts on health will be significant. We nevertheless have powerful levers at our disposal for supporting attenuation and adaptation policies regarding climate change, both in terms of orienting our asset management policies and encouraging more responsible behaviour by our customers. That is the reason for our commitment as an official partner to COP21” explains Hélène N’Diaye, Technical Risks Director, Generali, France.

2015 : The hottest year ever recorded

This programme will generate an extensive overview of the world environment and will predict future changes in advance, with time scales ranging from a few days to several decades.

The most recent data presented yesterday morning by Vincent Peuch, Director of the Copernicus “Atmosphere” Service at the European Centre for Medium Term Weather Forecasting (ECMWF) during the talk organised by Generali at the Bourget shows that:

• The average temperature collected over the past 12 months (from November 2014 to October 2015) has been the hottest recorded so far, with 0.38°C over the annual average calculated for the period 1981-2010.
•  World temperature in October 2015 was 0.64°C, higher than that recorded for the average of months over the period 1981-2010.
•  Over a century, average global temperature has increased by approximately 1 °C,
•  2015 will probably be the hottest recorded year since the pre-industrial age!


Average temperature for the period between November 2014 and October 2015, compared with 1981-2010 by Copernicus, European Union and ECMWF:

3 questions to Robert Barouki,
Member of INSERM and Professor at Paris Descartes University

What is the link between climate warming and infectious diseases?
This global climate change causes an increase in the frequency and severity of extreme events (such as excessive rains, droughts and heat waves) resulting in the emergence of two types of infectious diseases:
- bacterial diseases carried by water such as cholera or parasites such as blood flukes or fasciola (a chronic illness caused by parasitic worms) or even by protozoa such as amoebiasis. Floods are liable to increase proliferation and infection as well as the water temperature.
- vector or infectious diseases such as chikungunya, dengue fever, malaria, Lyme’s disease (from ticks), etc.

Is there any evidence that certain diseases are already spreading, as a result of climate change, to areas unaffected until now?
Yes, our climate has a powerful influence on malaria (or paludism) for example. The WHO estimates that the disease kills almost 800,000 people a year in Africa. In Africa, we can observe the spreading of the mosquitoes that transmit the disease (Anopheles) towards areas of higher altitude (in East and Southern Africa).
We have also seen the spectacular advance of dengue. In 50 years, the number of cases has multiplied by 30 according to the WHO. For a long time limited to South East Asia, dengue has extended to the Indian Ocean, the South Pacific, the West Indies and Latin America. Among the causes, the spreading of the Aedes mosquito is another consequence of climate warming.

In Europe or even in France, have cases been observed of this type?
The tiger mosquito has reached areas of Southern Europe (Italy and the South of France) requiring surveillance and sensitization of the population.
A mini-epidemic of dengue and chikungunya was observed in Italy in 2007 while some
endogenous cases were registered in the South of France.  An important episode of chikungunya was also seen in Reunion (in 2005) and in the French West Indies (2013/2014).

Maps created by SPALLIAN, company specialising in big data

The impact of temperature rises on malaria epidemics throughout the world

At first sight, it is difficult to compare the effects of temperature rises for the years 2000 to 2010 at a global level, even though we can observe a correlation between the hottest areas and those where cases of malaria are the most numerous. We therefore zoom onto individual countries to analyse developments at a global level.