In a harrowing revelation, Save the Children reports a staggering increase in dengue fever cases during 2023, surpassing annual figures of the past five years. Approximately 5 million cases were recorded across 20 severely affected countries between January and November, marking a 30% surge compared to the entirety of 2022 and an 18% increase from the 2019 outbreak.
Alarming statistics indicate that at least 5,500 lives were claimed by dengue in these countries, with children facing heightened vulnerability due to weaker immune systems.
SEVERITY IN BANGLADESH
The outbreak’s severity is underscored by Bangladesh, experiencing its worst dengue fever crisis in 2023, with over 300,000 infections and a death toll surpassing 1,500, including more than 160 children under 10. Peru, grappling with a decade-high epidemic, witnessed 50 child fatalities and over 80,000 infections, driven by the El Niño phenomenon’s impacts.
THE EL NIÑO EVENT
West Africa, particularly Burkina Faso, reported a sharp rise in dengue deaths, reaching 511 this year compared to 18 in 2017. The El Niño event, exacerbated by the climate crisis, is identified as a key factor in intensifying the outbreak. Extreme weather conditions, storms, and floods provide conducive environments for mosquito breeding, amplifying the spread of the disease.
Save the Children’s urgent call for action extends to COP28, urging world leaders to address climate change’s role in escalating health crises. The agency emphasizes the need for increased climate finance, directing support to vulnerable communities, especially children, for adaptation and addressing losses and damages. Recognizing children as key agents of change, governments are urged to limit temperature rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.
Dengue, a viral infection transmitted by mosquitoes, poses a significant threat, with symptoms ranging from flu-like conditions to severe cases like dengue hemorrhagic fever. Save the Children stresses the importance of localized plans, community involvement, and comprehensive efforts to control mosquitoes, diagnose the disease, and provide treatment. As dengue continues to surge globally, urgent and collaborative action is essential to mitigate its impact on vulnerable populations.