The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that the next pandemic is likely to be caused by an insect borne disease. Climate change, urban densification, and biodiversity loss are only heightening this threat.
In tropical and sub-tropical areas, approximately 3.9 billion people already live with the public health threat of arboviruses – pathogens which are spread by pests, such as mosquitoes and ticks. Mosquitoes are now known to be spreading around the world and becoming resistant to chemical insect repellents.
In addition, 58% of infectious diseases, including malaria, cholera and anthrax, have been exacerbated by extreme weather conditions connected to climate change.
What is Reckitt doing about it?
As a leading health and hygiene business, we're anticipating future health threats and working to find new, non-toxic ways to reduce the transmission of disease by pests, whilst preserving beneficial insects and microbes.
We're investing in new research, by partnering with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), to understand the evolving pest threat, and how we can reduce the resultant risk to health. And we’re developing our own breakthrough technology and formulations for more effective consumer pest-control.
Our own R&D Entomology Centre of Excellence in Gurgaon, India, develops breakthrough technology and formulations for more effective consumer pest-control.
We're also developing more sophisticated solutions – such as smart devices in the home, or new innovations in wearable repellents.
As COVID-19 taught us, hygiene is the foundation of health and is one of the best protections we have against the next pandemic. Better hygiene habits have remained at significantly elevated levels since the COVID-19 pandemic, with 77% of people saying they will maintain their new hygiene behaviours. As pests develop to live longer and spread further, we need to capitalise on this, to drive improved health education and public awareness of the link between climate change and human health.
The inextricable link between planetary and human health drives Reckitt’s purpose to protect, heal and nurture in the relentless pursuit of a cleaner, healthier world. To deliver on this purpose, we are developing new products, such as plant-based insect repellents, to address the health impacts of climate change, and innovating our products to be more sustainable, with greener ingredients and packaging.
Global warming and the next pandemic: the growing pest threat
At COP27, we hosted an event focused on the link between climate change and the growing pest threat. The event explored how we should respond - including the urgent need to find new ways to reduce disease transmission, improve pandemic preparedness, and ensure an integrated approach to climate and health.
To discuss the issues and how we can tackle them effectively, we brought together world-leading experts from global institutions, including the WHO, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, LSHTM, National Public Health Institute of Liberia, the Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Oxytec, Ifakara Health Institute, and more.
We will be looking at the role of entrepreneurship to drive innovative solutions and new technology. And focusing on what we can learn from COVID-19 about pandemic preparedness. As well as the need for multi-sector collaboration and a global network of experts.