Environment & Climate ChangeNews

New Wave Of Climate-Related Health Emergencies Hits Africa – WHO

Despite Africa contributing the least to global warming, the World Health Organisation (WHO) says African countries bear more consequences than others.

Climate change threatens Africa,  as the continent is witnessing an increase in climate-linked health emergencies, a new analysis by the World Health Organisation (WHO) revealed. 

The analysis found that despite Africa contributing the least to global warming, the continent has recorded 2,121 public health events between 2001 and 2021, which 56 per cent were climate related.

With climate change accounting for more than half of health issues recorded over the past two decades, the WHO said the continent is witnessing 25 per cent more climate health emergencies compared to the previous decade.

Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa said “frequent floods, water and vector-borne diseases are deepening health crises in Africa”.

The analysis also showed that over the last two decades, water-borne diseases recorded 40 per cent of the climate-related health emergencies while diarrhoea is the third leading cause of disease and death in children under five years old.

Vector-borne diseases, such as yellow fever, accounted for 28 per cent of climate health emergencies, while zoonotic diseases, specifically Congo-Crimean hemorrhagic fever – a viral disease transmitted to people from ticks and livestock and has an outbreak fatality rate of up to 40 per cent, were the third most prevalent. 

The report highlighted that since 2010, natural disasters have increased exponentially with 70 per cent of all-natural disasters occurring between 2017 and 2021 and floods were the most frequent event, accounting for 33 per cent.

With the crippling climate emergency, Africa is also grappling with other significant health impacts including malnutrition and hunger due to adverse weather on agricultural production, long-term health and development challenges in children, as well as other infectious diseases such as malaria.

On the occasion of World Health Day marked on Thursday, April 7, WHO  called on governments to, among other recommendations, prioritize human well-being in all key decisions, stop new fossil fuel explorations and subsidies, tax polluters and implement WHO air quality guidelines.

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