As a Strategy Manager, Zaira works on stakeholder engagement strategies, risk monitoring and policy development in a range of projects, mostly related to public health and ecosystem conservation.

Can Gene Drive Technology Help Address Health and Environmental Challenges?

The European Parliament Intergroup on Climate Change, Biodiversity and Sustainable Development will host the webinar “Research and innovation: What role for gene drive?” on October 29. The event aims to support internal EU discussions on the new EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030, as well as to help define the EU’s position for the CBD COP-15.

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Digital Sequence Information: Finding Balance Between Open Access & Fair Benefit-Sharing

Digital sequence information (DSI) on genetic resources provides critical information for health and environmental research. It contributes to the development of new tools and products that can benefit all of us - from medicines and the cure of diseases to more efficient conservation methods. 

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Celebrating World Mosquito Day

Forget about sharks, crocodiles, snakes, or even humans. The deadliest animal on earth is the mosquito. These creatures have been taking millions of lives every year, as they transmit numerous diseases; zika, yellow fever, dengue, chikungunya, and malaria are just some of them.

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Why the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework is so Important

The Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) will set the level of ambition for actions by countries and other stakeholders to reduce biodiversity loss and protect our planet for the next decades. It marks the completion of the Aichi Targets agreed to ten years ago and, although there was progress made in some areas, we are far away from having accomplished all.

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The COVID-19 Pandemic and the SDGs: What can we do Differently?

The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting everyone on a global scale. We all know somebody who has had to cancel plans, suddenly became unemployed or even lost someone to the virus. All countries remain highly vulnerable to new outbreaks. The economic and social consequences are unmeasurable in the short-term and unknown in the long-term. However, some have been more severely hit than others.

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Climate Change: An Entire Generation at Risk

The Lancet Countdown recently launched its 2019 report tracking the effects of climate change on health. The message is clear: the future of an entire generation depends on our commitment and ability to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius. Climate change represents a major threat to our species, as infectious diseases, pollution and malnutrition will be worsened by rising temperatures. Children are among the most vulnerable.

The publication classifies current efforts to address climate change as “intermittent at best”. The past five years are, together, the warmest in the modern history, as NASA indicates. For Lancet, fossil fuels are the primary driver of climate change. The carbon intensity of our energy system has remained unchanged since the 90s. 

If we continue to follow the “business as usual” pathway, a child born today is likely to live in a world over 4 degrees Celsius warmer than the pre-industrial average. Higher temperatures will have profound impacts on food security, affecting global crop yield and increasing the risk of malnutrition. The number of deaths caused by air pollution will also dramatically increase. Today, air pollution is already responsible for nearly 4.2 million premature deaths worldwide, says the World Health Organization (WHO).

The impact of climate change on disease transmission is particularly concerning. Changes in environmental conditions are already favouring the transmission of mosquito-borne diseases, including malaria. 

Malaria is endemic in many regions worldwide. According to the WHO, Africa carries the higher burden - 92% of the cases and 93% of the deaths in 2017. Malaria claimed 435,000 lives that year, with almost 220 million cases reported in 87 countries. The children under five years old are the most vulnerable and accounted for 61% of the fatalities. 

The situation is likely to get worse. The Lancet’s research indicates that climate suitability for malaria transmission is increasing, especially in the highland areas of Africa. Using 1950s data as reference, the climate suitability for the disease averaged 29.9% above it from 2012 to 2017. Unfortunately, this is not limited to malaria - all pathogens studied presented an increasing rate of suitability.

We are facing life-threatening challenges, and there is no time for “business as usual”. As noted by the authors, overcoming health challenges caused by climate change requires new approaches to policy-making, business and research. Health will have to be at the centre of decisions if we want to move away from current catastrophic trends.

If you are interested in learning more about vector-borne diseases and innovative tools to eradicate malaria, visit the Target Malaria’s website.