The traction on health being central to the climate crisis is gaining momentum, and its drum rolls need to sound even louder.
This, as about 1.1 million people in Africa died prematurely from air pollution-related diseases in 2019, representing one-sixth of the total global estimate of 7 million annual deaths.
Furthermore, climate-linked emergencies have been on the rise, with more than 100 health emergencies occurring in the African region every year, as reported by WHO — accounting for 70 per cent of all-natural disasters between 2017 and 2021, with devastating consequences.
At least 2,121 public health events were recorded in the region between 2001 and 2021, of which 56 per cent were climate-related. In our recent memory is the cyclone Freddy in southern Africa that killed at least 676 people and displaced thousands in Malawi, with enormous destruction of infrastructure including health facilities, roads, schools and water systems.
These staggering statistics paint a devastating picture of the loss and destruction of human lives and livelihoods that climate change and its intersection with the health of our people has had. We hold the position that no one should be allowed to speak on climate change without a mention of statistics of people dying and suffering from climate-linked health conditions.