Together with the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Africa (WHO) and Amref Health Africa, African governments, represented by their Ministers of Health, have started a regional initiative to deal with the health effects of climate change in Africa.
This is an attempt to use the power of cooperation between countries and other groups by sharing experiences and working together to adapt to and reduce the effects of climate change.
In addition to making it easier to work across sectors, the effort aims to give health and well-being in Africa a stronger voice at the Conference of the Parties (COPs) and other global forums for climate action and negotiation. In line with the health pledges made at COP26, the initiative will help Member States reach their goals by starting and strengthening their legal, institutional, and operational framework for multi sectoral work to deal with the complexity of health problems caused by climate change
During the Seventy-sixth World Health Assembly, the proposal was made official at a meeting between ministers that was put on by the WHO Regional Office for Africa and Amref Health Africa. The discussion comes at a time when climate-related health emergencies are rising. Every year, more than 100 health emergencies happen in the African Region.
Between 2001 and 2021, 2,121 public health events were reported in the region. Of those, 56% were caused by the weather. The number of natural disasters has been going up, and between 2017 and 2021, they made up 70% of all disasters, which had terrible effects. In recent history, the storm Freddy in southern Africa killed at least 676 people and forced tens of thousands of people to leave Malawi, where it hit the hardest.
Climate change directly affects our health and well-being, and some of the worst effects are happening in our area. Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, said, “The initiative launched today lays a strong foundation for building resilient health systems that can continue to provide essential services even as they deal with the destruction caused by floods, drought, environmental degradation, disease outbreaks, and other effects of climate change.”
Few African governments have paid attention to the health risks that are getting worse because of climate change. Less than 20% of the countries’ nationally determined contributions even name health. Even though the bad effects of global warming on people’s health and health services are already happening and will only worsen, this is still the case.
The Chief Executive Officer of Amref Health, Dr. Githinji Gitahi, said, “Through this project, we want to work with governments to help them understand how climate change affects health by using data. This will help us form nationally determined contributions and national planning better to protect health systems from the risks of climate change.
The health ministers said they wanted to work with WHO Afro and Amref to strengthen and move forward the multisectoral collaboration and coordination to improve the implementation of mitigation and adaptation measures to reduce health risks caused by climate change.