Must build climate-resilient systems in response to Africa’s disease outbreak surge
There is a disease outbreak surge in Africa due to extreme weather events, like droughts and floods.
Beyond mitigation, effective response and adaptation measures against the impacts of climate change, climate-vulnerable African nations must endeavour to build resilient health systems to cope effectively.
The crisis needs a cross-sectoral working relationship within countries involving health and other ministries and departments.
For the response and mitigation to be effective, it might require legislation or programmes that cut across more than one portfolio.
Unfortunately, most African governments do not have policies on the health adaptation approach to accessing financial support from the Green Climate Fund.
Hence, most of the funds are channelled towards other sectors and sub-sectors, like agriculture and flood control. None of them goes to, say, building climate-resilient health systems.
We need to support and advocate within governments on the importance of paying attention to the link between climate change on public health.
At the same time, we need funds for adaptation to help build health centres that are more resistant and tolerant to extreme weather events.
From our analysis at Amref Health Africa regarding the preparedness for the oncoming danger of climate crises, only a few countries across Africa have incorporated health in their Nationally Determined Contributions, or other climate action plans to cut emissions and adapt to climate impacts.
This, we concluded, is an indication that health systems adaptation is not an area of priority or significant focus for most African governments.
Githinji Gitahi is Group chief executive officer of Amref Health Africa
This was first published in the 16-31 March, 2023 print edition of Down To Earth
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