July 25, 2024

The Covid-19 pandemic and other infectious diseases can be related to climate change caused by urbanization, economic development, and a societal shift toward environmental apathy.
Philippine College of Surgeons fellow Elizabeth Solang underscored this when she graced the culmination of the Women’s Month celebration of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Cordillera last week.
Solang said Covid-19 is currently classified as either a zoonic or an emerging infectious disease with probable animal origin while human encroachment on natural habitats and loss of biodiversity triggered the spill-over of the virus from wild animals to humans.
Solang said based on the Harvard School of Public Health study, human activities such as expansion of settlements and deforestation can increase the rise of infectious diseases, including Covid-19.
A paper presented by Arooba Ahmend of the Columbia University also discussed how destruction of the environment leads to a pandemic, as she stated there could be an increased number of pandemics, not just the Covid-19 pandemic.
Solang also shared the same study showed that habitat destruction not only increases people’s contact with wildlife but also disrupts the natural balance in ways that can fuel pandemics. 
“Human pressure on biodiversity through land-use change resulting from agricultural land expansion, logging, infrastructure development, and other human activities are the most common driver of infectious disease emergence, accounting for approximately one-third of all emerging disease events,” Solang said, citing the study by Ahmed.
Experts have said striking a balance between environmental protection and pursuit for development are among the keys to mitigating the effects of climate change and protect public health from emerging infectious diseases such as Covid-19.
Since the first lockdown in March 2020, the Cordillera recorded 117,990 Covid-19 cases and 2,590 deaths. 
“What seemed like a foreign event began hitting home. We watched as family, friends and acquaintances become statistics,” Solang said. – Harley F. Palangchao