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Epidemiologist underscores impact of climate change on public health in Africa

Associate Professor of Infectious Diseases and Public Health Epidemiology in Nasarawa, Dr Ishaku Akyala, has underscored the impact of climate change on public health in Africa.

Isheri
Flooding in Isheri North community in Ogun State

Akyala said in Abuja on Monday, March 11, 2024, that “the devastating effects of extreme weather, including floods and heat waves, led to increased disease burden and deaths across the continent.’’

He said that vulnerable populations such as women, children and the poor, were severely affected, facing challenges related to waterborne diseases, malnutrition and mental health consequences.

He, therefore, called for urgent action to mitigate the effects, and recommended enhanced sensitisation to educate the people.

He said health systems, governments and health professionals also required sensitisation on the health impacts of climate change.

“This includes understanding the relationship between climate change and human health and sharing knowledge with relevant stakeholders.

“There is also the need for interdisciplinary research across hierarchical levels and geographical and political boundaries to better understand climate-related health impacts and develop effective strategies to address them,” he said.

The associate professor said there was perceived need to raise awareness among the public and politicians about the health impacts of climate change “because support for the work of health professionals in addressing these impacts is crucial.

“Governments and health systems must adapt strategies to mitigate the effects of climate change on public health.

“This includes measures to improve water and food security, enhance healthcare infrastructure, and strengthen disease surveillance and response systems.’’

He explained that by prioritising the recommendations, African countries would be better prepared to mitigate the challenges and safeguard the wellbeing of their populations.

Climate change presents a global threat to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly goals related to environmental sustainability.

Urgent actions are, therefore, needed to address climate change, as emphasised by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the Paris Agreement.

Recent UN reports highlighted the severe impact of climate-related disasters, such as flooding in West and Central Africa, which led to human and physical losses.

Africa is particularly vulnerable to climate change, experiencing various adverse effects such as sea-level rise, water resource reduction and increased disease burden.

Consequently, understanding the relationship between climate change and human health is crucial for preparedness and response to disease outbreak and prevalence.

By Abujah Racheal

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