At the end of 2023, the United Arab Emirates joined forces with several other countries and charities at the UN climate summit to offer $777 million toward eradicating neglected tropical diseases, Reuters reported.
Tropical diseases are illnesses that are more common in the warmer regions of the world, such as parts of Africa and South Asia. As Reuters explained, many of them — like river blindness and sleeping sickness — are actually easy to treat.
However, in the countries where these diseases are currently most common, they often go untreated due to a lack of resources, allowing them to spread.
This is already a serious humanitarian issue, as many people suffer unnecessarily from these treatable diseases. Now, rising global temperatures are lending new urgency to the problem because as the world warms up, these heat-loving diseases are likely to spread to new areas that were previously safe, including the United States and Europe.
As reported by Reuters, COP28 President Sultan Ahmed Al-Jaber said in a statement that climate-related factors “have become one of the greatest threats to human health in the 21st century.”
Rising temperatures are already linked to an uptick in disease. Experts have raised concerns about the development of more medication-resistant superbugs as the world gets warmer. Mosquito-borne diseases will also spread more easily in a hot climate, which makes it easier for these insects to breed.
“We are in a lot of trouble,” Joseph Vipond, an emergency physician from Canada, said at a demonstration during the climate summit. “This is having real world impacts.”
That’s why the UAE pledged $100 million of funding for the treatment of tropical diseases, with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation adding another $100 million, Reuters reported. Other donors include Belgium, Germany, and the U.S. Agency for International Development.
Thankfully, there is hope to wipe out these diseases.
“We have new tools at the lab level that decimate mosquito populations,” said Bill Gates, speaking at the summit. “These new innovations give us a chance, at a reasonable cost, to make progress.”
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