Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Deforestation linked to health problems: study

Deforestation linked to health problems: study

A swath of land deforested as a result of logging around Oral Mountain in Kampong Speu’s Oral district in 2013. May Tithara
A swath of land deforested as a result of logging around Oral Mountain in Kampong Speu’s Oral district in 2013. May Tithara

Deforestation linked to health problems: study

New research published this week, in which Cambodia was used as the case study, has found that deforestation is associated with an increased risk of several major causes of childhood morbidity and mortality.

The study, published earlier this month in the UK-based journal Lancet Planetary Health, found that deforestation was linked to increased incidences of diarrhoea, fever and acute respiratory infection in children. That was based on analysis of data from 35,547 households from the Cambodia Demographic Health Surveys.

The data was used to investigate the relationship between health and protected areas that have been deforested in Cambodia between 2005 and 2014.

Researchers found that a 10 percent hike in the loss of dense forest was estimated to be associated with an increase of 14.1 percent in the incidence of diarrhoea in children younger than 5 years old per household.

“Cambodia is an interesting case study for several reasons,” said Thomas Pienkowski, with the National University of Singapore and the main author of the study.

“It has experienced substantial health gains in the last 15 years . . . However, it has also simultaneously experienced relatively high rates of environmental changes, including extensive deforestation.”

Trucks drive through a deforested area in 2014, removing unwanted materials from the Lower Sesan II dam construction site in Stung Treng's Sesan district.
Trucks drive through a deforested area in 2014, removing unwanted materials from the Lower Sesan II dam construction site in Stung Treng's Sesan district. Pha Lina

Researchers are still trying to figure out how exactly diarrhoea, fever and acute respiratory infections are linked to deforestation, Pienkowski said.

“That’s a complex question, and one that we don’t yet really know the full answer to,” he said. “There are multiple ways that deforestation can affect these health outcomes.”

For example, he said, some studies have shown that when forests are cleared, the local environment warms. That can create habitats that are more suitable for mosquito breeding, which could elevate the risk of malaria.

Rainwater may also run off from deforested areas more quickly than forested areas, which might wash animal and human faeces into the water that people use for drinking.

“These are just a few hypothesised links between deforestation and health,” he said.

Pienkowski said this study may offer new ways of meeting joint public health and environmental objectives, and could contribute toward meeting Sustainable Development Goals.

“However, in the same breath, we are still unsure about how protected areas might be associated with health; more research in this area is required,” he said.

Officials from the ministries of health and environment could not be reached for comment.

MOST VIEWED

  • Prince Norodom Ranariddh passes away at 77

    Prince Norodom Ranariddh, the second son of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk and former First Prime Minister of Cambodia, has passed away in France at the age of 77. “Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranariddh has passed away this morning in France just after 9am Paris-time,”

  • Cambodia purchases 4 million Molnupiravir tablets

    Cambodia has arranged for the purchase of four million US-made Molnupiravir pills – enough to treat 100,000 Covid-19 patients – even though the current rate of daily infections in Cambodia remains low. The medicine will be distributed to state hospitals, pharmacies and private clinics, according to the Samdech

  • Rise in planned flights lifts travel hopes

    Six airlines have applied to resume flights in December, while two others have put in for additional flights and routes, according to State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) head Mao Havannall on November 29. These account for 43 new weekly domestic and international flights in December, up 16

  • Is Cambodia’s travel sector in for another cheerless holiday season?

    The travel and tourism sector was heaving back to life as borders started to reopen, promising a festive vibe for the holidays and New Year. But Omicron and other Covid-related issues are threatening to close the year on a bleak note ‘Seems [like] Covid-19 won’

  • Cambodia planning new border checkpoint at Thma Da

    Cambodia is looking into the possibility of opening a new Thma Da Border Checkpoint with Thailand to boost trade and tourism. The Ministry of Public Works and Transport said on December 4 that Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol led a technical working group

  • Hun Sen: Manet to be candidate for prime minister

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has reaffirmed that his oldest son Hun Manet will be his successor as Prime Minister if he is elected. Speaking during the inauguration of a new sewage treatment facility in Preah Sihanouk province on December 2, Hun Sen said Manet will be