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Climate change is likely to worsen the public health threat of diarrheal disease in Botswana

Diarrheal disease is an important health challenge, accounting for the majority of childhood deaths globally. Climate change is expected to increase the global burden of diarrheal disease but little is known regarding climate drivers, particularly in Africa. This study uses health data from Botswana spanning a 30-year period (1974–2003) to evaluate monthly reports of diarrheal disease among patients presented to Botswana’s health facilities; this data was then compared with climatic variables. The analysis suggests that forecasted climate change increases in temperature and decreases in precipitation may increase dry season diarrheal disease incidence with hot, dry conditions starting earlier and lasting longer. Diarrheal disease incidence in the wet season is likely to decline. The results identify significant health-climate interactions, highlighting the need for an escalated public health focus on controlling diarrheal disease in Botswana.