Africa Regional delegates deliberating on a Unified African position on Health and Climate Negotiations in Lilongwe, Malawi are basing the action on findings by various global and continental health research bodies, health organizations and climate change bodies.
Malawi Country Director of Amref Health Africa, Mr. Hester Mkwinda Nyasulu believes that the United Nations’ sustainable goals cannot be achieved if health, which is one of the enablers, is not considered and handled at the UNFCCC table of negotiation.
”What we have discovered as Amref Health Africa over our years of implementation, is that all our efforts are taken aback because of the effects of climate change that reverse all the investments and gains achieved,” he reiterated.
“We have realized that unless we bring health into climate change negotiations strongly, then all our efforts are in vain. We are seeing, strange things happening, cholera coming in, even in dry seasons, when it was never the case.”
“We are seeing extreme heat affecting expectant mothers who have to walk very long distances to access health facilities, floods affecting people to access health facilities, destroying infrastructures we have spent a lot to put up,” Nyasuru added.
According to Amref Health Africa, climate change lead, Mr.Martin Muchangi, countries like Kenya and Malawi are experiencing more communicable diseases and non-communicable diseases courtesy of climate change.
”An example is the cholera epidemics which are happening in Africa. We had forgotten somehow, about cholera epidemics in a big way, but right now, we have cholera epidemics in Kenya, and just the other day we had cholera epidemics in Malawi. You know the disruption which happened in Nigeria, and all these are because of adverse weather events,” he pointed out.
According to the International Panel for Climate Change, Africa bears the biggest brunt of the health impact of climate change. A look at the figures over the last decade, there has been a 63% increase in zoonotic outbreaks in Africa, compared to the decade of 2001 to 2011.
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“This shows how important it is for us to really address the nexus between climate change, and health in the African continent. As a matter of fact, it is projected that climate-related health risks are likely to cause or contribute 60-80% of deaths in Africa by 2030.”
“I think that’s really concerning and it underlines the significance of this particular event that brings various stakeholders from across the continent to put heads together and agree on African common position as we are heading to Nairobi, climate change summit,” reiterated Mr. Nahashon Aluoka of Pandemic Action Network.
Further, research by WHO reveals that approximately 20% of child deaths fewer than 5 years are attributed to water-related diseases, often caused by inadequate access to clean water.
Mr. Benson Simba, the Health and Climate Change lead at Pan African Climate Justice Alliance, acknowledged that currently there isn’t a global common position on Health and Climate Change, except for the Paris Agreement generally laying out principles to work with across board which applied within the health sector.
The health sector currently is part of the adaptation to climate change narrative, and there are no agreed-upon indicators to guide, so it is a work in progress and a burden on the shoulders of the Lilongwe delegates in pursuit of a Unified African Position on Health in climate negotiations.
”This particular process Africa is championing will be a prototype to be able to form how the global conversation will go. We do hope that we will be able to engage together with other continents to be able to build a common position ultimately at the global level.” said Simba.
African delegates on Health and Climate Change are hopeful to convince the UNFCCC, come COP 28 to have health included in the Global Climate Change agenda.