WWF, Pascual Lab partner to educate students on climate change

By Anna Valmero

MAKATI CITY, METRO MANILA—Aside from causing stronger typhoons and heavier flooding, Filipinos are warned that climate change can also accelerate the spread of malaria, leptospirosis, and other vector-borne diseases.

To help prepare the younger generation with the impacts of climate change, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-Philippines) inked a partnership with Pascual Laboratories under the company's SEED Initiative to educate 900 students and ten science teachers.

The program will be held at Esteban Abada Elementary School in Quezon City and Balagtas Elementary School in Bulacan. It will run from July to August.

“Climate change affects the fundamental requirements for human health—clean air, safe drinking water, sufficient food, and secure shelter. By inspiring a new generation to dream of new climate change and health-management solutions, WWF and Pascual Laboratories aim to improve tomorrow’s lives today,” said WWF-Philippines environmental education head Obel Resurreccion.

By educating them early on, the youth will have better chances on how to cope with disease outbreaks of disease and how to reduce their personal environmental impacts to mitigate climate change, said Pascual Laboratories corporate communications director Mia Pascual Cenzon.

Among the key messages to be delivered during the education program is how climate change can accelerate the spread of diseases such as malaria and leptospirosis, said Resurreccion.

On February 2012, the New York Academy of Sciences reported that rising temperatures and changing rainfall patterns might have a substantial effect in spreading both waterborne and vector-borne diseases or those that are carried by organisms such as mosquitoes.

Higher temperatures will see mosquitoes, which require temperatures of about 17 degrees Celsius,  invading once cold and mosquito-free areas.

Malaria and other vector-borne illnesses carried by mosquitoes will spread to new communities as global temperature continues to rise.

Increased flooding from heavier rains on the other hand, threatens people with leptospirosis, a bacterial infection which causes fever, diarrhea and severe rashes.

Due to stagnant pools left behind by typhoons Pedring and Quiel, the Department of Health recorded 2,601 cases of leptospirosis from January to September 2011 alone. The figure was more than double the cases recorded in 2010.

In its ‘World Health Report’ for 2002, the World Health Organization (WHO) stated that climate change might be responsible for approximately 2.4 percent of worldwide diarrhea and six percent of malaria cases.

“We are very excited for we feel that WWF can best help us impart better health and environmental practices for the next generation. We strongly believe in taking care of nature because it also takes care of us. Each person, family and corporation benefits from a thriving Earth, which is precisely why we must protect it,” added Cenzon.

Photo by WWF-Philippines chief executive Lory Tan.

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