One thing with the current viral pandemic is how it has changed our ways of life. But one thing that is baffling many is the increase in the frequency of pandemics and other similar outbreaks of disease in this era. The risk of an epidemic snowballing into a pandemic is greater than ever. Here are some of the reasons why this is happening:
We now depend so much on air travel in this century that millions can move from one country to another in the blink of an eye. Bus routes and train networks now cross borders and it is a lot easier to move from one place to another.
With air travel, you can reach the other half of the world in hours, less than the period that diseases even need to incubate. As more people are now traveling by air, it means that a virus in China can appear in Australia in a matter of hours. The presence of millions of flights crisscrossing the globe means that diseases can be swiftly spread as people move around.
More people are leaving the rural areas and migrating to the urban centers. Reports from the United Nations have shown clearly that this trend is going to continue without slowing down anytime soon and this is particularly true of Africa and Asia, two of the most populous areas of the globe. Many cities are exploding in terms of population with increased pressure on transport, infrastructure, housing, and other facilities.
More people are pouring into urban centers in search of better opportunities, jobs, healthcare, and others. Another factor that is increasing urbanization is the destruction of rural areas by industrial activities. When those in the rural areas lose their natural habitat and shelter, they are forced to move to the cities. The problem is that they end up overcrowding the cities leading to the development of slums and ghettoes which are ideal areas where infectious diseases can thrive.
It is no longer news that one of the biggest challenges facing humanity now is climate change. From access to food and water resources or even the occurrence of extreme weather events, climate change is wreaking serious havoc on humanity. This phenomenon is also one of the forces influencing the spread of infectious diseases in several ways. One is that it changes the natural range of diseases by influencing the habitat of disease vectors like mosquitoes. These insects cause malaria and they are now able to inhabit warmer areas that had hitherto been cold – all thanks to climate change.
Climate change also causes an increase in the rate of flooding which leads to the outbreak of waterborne diseases like cholera and many other diarrheal diseases. This same phenomenon also leads to the displacement of human beings and it triggers overpopulation in cities that have already been stretched. People spill across borders as climate change transforms their environment or can even lead to conflict in some instances. A combination of these factors is increasing the spread of infectious diseases in form of epidemics and pandemics.
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