More than half of public health problems in Africa linked to climate change according to WHO

Shepherds pull out a stuck ox in the muddy waters of the dry Mabwematema dam in Zimbabwe.

  • Thursday marks World Health Day, sponsored by the World Health Organization, under the theme “Our Planet. Our Health”.
  • About 70% of all-natural disasters in the past 20 years occurred between 2017 and 2021.
  • According to the WHO, the entire foundation of good health is threatened by increasingly severe climatic events.

More than half of the 2,121 public health events recorded over the past two decades in Africa were climate-related, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a new report on the occasion of World Health Day. health.

Natural disasters have also increased dramatically since 2010, with 70% of all-natural disasters occurring between 2017 and 2021.

Floods were the most frequent, accounting for 33% of all reported natural disasters.

By definition, public health events were those that posed an immediate threat to human health and required prompt action, and were not limited to epidemics and the spread of infectious diseases.

WATCH | More extreme weather hits southern Africa

“The analysis revealed that of the 2,121 public health events recorded in the African region between 2001 and 2021, 56% were climate-related. The region is experiencing an increase in climate-related emergencies, with 25% more climate-related events recorded. between 2011 and 2021 compared to the previous decade,” the report says.

Various United Nations agencies, global think tanks and aid donors had since incorporated climate change awareness and mitigation into their programs as the world, especially Africa, felt the effects of global warming.

Part of the message conveyed was that African governments should prioritize human well-being in all key decisions, stop new fossil fuel exploration and subsidies, tax polluters and implement WHO guidelines on pollution. air quality.

Climate change issues have also become a political campaign rallying point.

READ | Southern African countries face severe heat wave

On Wednesday, Malawi’s President Lazarus Chakwera donated 10,000 kilograms of maize flour to the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (Dodma), to mark his 67th birthday in the country.

Dodma will then distribute to flood victims in various camps in the southern region of Malawi.

“While the President is grateful for the gift of life, he is aware of the many Malawians whose lives have been disrupted by recent natural disasters, and this gift is his expression of solidarity with them and his commitment to alleviating their suffering.” , said the presidential press. Secretary Anthony Kasunda in a statement.

Due to climate change, “the whole basis of good health is threatened by increasingly severe climatic events,” the WHO said.

According to the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), Southern Africa was one of the most affected regions in the world, with recurring natural disasters such as floods.

As such, the WHO noted that waterborne diseases were on the rise.

“WHO analysis found that waterborne diseases accounted for 40% of climate-related health emergencies over the past two decades. In Africa, diarrheal diseases are the third leading cause of illness and death among children under five. these deaths can be prevented through safe drinking water, adequate sanitation and hygiene,” the organization said.

WHO analysis found that vector-borne diseases, including yellow fever, accounted for 28% of climate-related health emergencies, while zoonotic diseases, particularly Crimean Congo haemorrhagic fever, were third. more widespread. Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever is a viral disease transmitted to humans by ticks and cattle and has had an epidemic mortality rate of up to 40%.


The News24 Africa Desk is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation. The stories produced by the Africa Desk and the opinions and statements that may be contained therein do not reflect those of the Hanns Seidel Foundation.


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