By David LittmanPublished February 13, 2018 10:17:29You may not have heard of the tropical island nation of Papua New Guinea (PNG), but you’ve probably heard of its palm beaches.
As part of a series of reports published by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), a research group in Singapore, researchers have been examining the country’s palm plantations to find out what’s causing it to become a hotspot for tropical diseases.”PNG has the highest percentage of palm-tipped fruit and the second-highest rate of malaria [deaths],” said Dr. Mark Janssen, one of the lead authors of the report, in a press release.
“But we’re seeing a lot of new diseases.
We’ve seen a spike in the number of cases of chikungunya [also known as West Nile], dengue fever, and malaria.””
The population is growing, and we’ve had a lot more people come into contact with pathogens.
There’s not enough protective gear in place,” he continued.
“There’s not a lot that’s available, and it’s really important that we do something.”
While the study focused on the palm plantations in Papua New Guineans’ backyard, it’s not the only country to have identified a link between tropical diseases and palm plantations.
Researchers have been observing the disease dynamics of the country for the past 20 years, and in 2014, the IISD released a report titled The Coronavirus Battleground in Papua.
“What’s interesting is that we’ve seen that when there’s a large population coming into contact [with pathogens], that’s when the disease starts to accelerate,” Jansson said.
“And it’s been pretty hard to do that in PNG because the population is relatively small.”
Janssen explained that it’s important to remember that the impact of tropical diseases on the population can be significant.
“If you have a large, unmet need in terms of healthcare, the consequences can be severe, especially in a developing country like PNG,” he said.
“We need to understand what the population needs in terms on sanitation, food, water, and the infrastructure to help ensure that it is well protected.”
In addition to the impact that tropical diseases have on a country’s economy, the researchers also found that the country has an overabundance of palm oil in the world.
The report says that the rate of deforestation in the country is higher than anywhere else in the region.
It also found evidence of deforestation that’s causing the disease crisis in the countries surrounding the country.
“In a way, palm oil is like a natural sponge that’s helping to feed the diseases and it can be an incredibly effective filter of some of these diseases,” said Janssson.
“So we should really pay attention to what is happening to this sponge.”
Papua New Guineses palm plantations are a major source of palm oils in the tropical region, and are one of many countries that rely on the product for its economy.
But in a country that has more than 4 million people, the situation is dire.
While palm oil plantations can help the economy grow, they also pose a threat to the health of the people living in the area.
In 2016, Jansstons group found that palm oil consumption in PNG is over 90 percent, and that over 95 percent of the population suffers from certain types of malaria.
“The risk is that if the population becomes ill, it could spread into other areas where there is a larger population,” he told The Guardian.
“That could mean more deaths, more economic hardship, and ultimately, an even bigger crisis.”