Diarrhea Patterns and Climate: A Spatiotemporal Bayesian Hierarchical Analysis of Diarrheal Disease in Afghanistan.


Subject to a high burden of diarrheal diseases, Afghanistan is also susceptible to climate change. This study investigated the spatiotemporal distribution of diarrheal disease in the country and how associated it is with climate variables. Using monthly aggregated new cases of acute diarrhea reported between 2010 and 2016 and monthly averaged climate data at the district level, we fitted a hierarchical Bayesian spatiotemporal statistical model. We found aridity and mean daily temperature were positively associated with diarrhea incidence; every 1°C increase in mean daily temperature and 0.01-unit change in the aridity index were associated with a 0.70% (CI: 0.67%, 0.73%) increase and a 4.79% (CI: 4.30%, 5.26%) increase in the risk of diarrhea, respectively. Average annual temperature, on the other hand, was negatively associated, with a 3.7% (CI: 3.74%, 3.68) decrease in risk for every degree Celsius increase in annual average temperature. Temporally, most districts exhibited similar seasonal trends, with incidence peaking in summer, except for the eastern region where differences in climate patterns and population density may be associated with high rates of diarrhea throughout the year. The results from this study highlight the significant role of climate in shaping diarrheal patterns in Afghanistan, allowing policymakers to account for potential impacts of climate change in their public health assessments.

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