AFRICA – Increased incidence of climate-linked health emergencies in Africa is becoming a threat to public health systems across the region, according to a new analysis by World Health Organization (WHO).
The analysis revealed over the past two decades, more than half of public health events recorded in the region could be directly linked to the spike in climate-related health emergencies
The World Health Organization (WHO) has urged African countries to pressingly initiate adaptation and mitigation actions to address the expected rapid urbanization that will expose humans to natural hazards and an increase in associated injuries, disease and deaths.
The report was released during World Health Day 2022 celebrations which are normally held on 7th April to mark the anniversary of the founding of World Health Organization (WHO) in 1948.
Each year, a theme is selected to highlight a priority area of public health concern in the world. The 2022 celebrations were marked under the theme “Our Planet, Our Health”.
The day presented an opportunity for World Health Organization to urge governments to prioritize human well-being in key decisions such as ending new fossil fuel explorations and subsidies.
The World Health Organization has warned that chronic noncommunicable diseases are set to overtake communicable diseases, maternal, neonatal and nutritional conditions in the African region to become the leading cause of death by 2030.
WHO Regional Director for Africa Dr Matshidiso Moeti stressed that the link between the planet and people’s health is inseparable since the burden of noncommunicable and infectious diseases rises alongside growing incidence of climate-related challenges.
Additionally, most public health crises have been climate-related in the last two decades from vector-borne diseases or water-borne diseases, ailments transmitted from animals to humans to public health issues rising from natural disasters.
“COVID-19 along with spiraling obesity, diabetes and hypertension rates compounds the challenge highlighting the urgency of a multi-sectoral response,” WHO reports.
The multi-sectoral response includes the 10-year Libreville Declaration on Health and Environment in Africa that African health and environment ministers endorsed in 2008 aimed at promoting government investment in addressing environmental problems that impact human health.
In addition to that, WHO in the African Region supports African countries to conduct situation and needs assessments and create Health National Adaptation Plans (H-NAPs).
The health organization further supports countries to submit National Adaptation Plans involving essential public health interventions to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zimbabwe recently implemented projects focusing on climate resilient water and sanitation, assessing the capacity of health facilities to cope with climate-change induced drought and strengthening health systems resilience.
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