Climate Change

18 African countries yet to link health to climate action plans: WHO

Only 29 countries have developed and implemented the health-related National Adaptation Plan to mitigate climate change risks

By Kiran Pandey
Published: Wednesday 21 August 2019
Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images Photo: Getty Images

Eighteen African countries are yet to integrate health components in their national plans to mitigate climate change, according to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO).

About 47 African countries had, in 2011, recognised the health impacts of climate change and adopted a framework to link it to public health.

However, eight years after, only 29 countries have developed and implemented the health-related National Adaptation Plan (HNAP). The HNAP ensures that both health issues and health authorities are represented in every country’s efforts to build resilience to climate change.  

Between 2017 and 2019, 19 more countries conducted vulnerability and adaptation assessments and 12 developed HNAPs to climate change. 

The report will be presented at the ongoing 69th session of the WHO Regional Committee for Africa in Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo.  

The WHO had, earlier, projected that 46 countries in the Sub-Saharan Africa will have the greatest burden of mortality attributable to climate change in the next decade (by 2030).

Climate change plays a significant role in increasing infectious diseases, like diarrheoa, extending the transmission season of malaria and dengue and accelerates their spread. It is responsible for heatwaves, which can increase the risk of cardiovascular, respiratory and renal diseases. It also plays a role in malnutrition and undernutrition. The framework was aimed at limiting these adverse public health effects. 

The adoption HNAPs needs to be fast-tracked in the remaining 18 countries, which include the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Chad, that are vulnerable to climate risks, the WHO said. These were stalled due to challenges such as:

  • Weak technical and scientific knowledge about climate change and health
  • Inadequate integrated approaches
  • Insufficient funding and inadequate advocacy of the impact of climate change on health

The WHO has requested United Nations and non-governmental organisations to coordinate vulnerability and adaptation assessments of the health sector to climate change in the 18 countries. The global health body has also asked the countries to develop early warning and response systems for climate-sensitive diseases.

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