NAIROBI, Sept. 19 (Xinhua) -- The fragility of public health systems in Africa has worsened in the face of climate emergencies like floods, water stress, pollution, and rapid spread of disease-causing pathogens, experts said on Tuesday during a virtual forum in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi.
Brama Kone, the technical officer in charge of climate change and health at the Africa regional office of the World Health Organization (WHO), noted that rising temperatures have undermined efforts to reduce the continent's disease burden.
Citing the emergence of lethal strains of disease-causing pathogens amid shifts in climate patterns, Kone said African governments should intensify climate action at the community level to minimize deaths and pressure on health facilities.
Kone said the speedy implementation of outcomes adopted at the Africa Climate Summit, held in Nairobi on Sept. 4-6, is crucial to boost the resilience of the continent's public health systems in the face of climate disasters.
In addition, Kone urged African governments to realign climate action with the quest to eradicate communicable diseases like malaria that are spreading in non-traditional regions due to climate change.
African nations will present a common position on strengthening the nexus between climate change and health during the 28th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP28) slated for Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, from Nov. 30 to Dec. 12, said Winnie Masiko, a Ugandan green campaigner.
Masiko added that for the climate health nexus to take root in Africa, countries should bridge knowledge, technical, and financing gaps at the grassroots level where climate-induced disease outbreaks are spreading rapidly.
According to Masiko, mainstreaming climate action in national health policies, combined with political goodwill, innovative financing, research, and innovations, will be key to enhancing the resilience of Africa's public health systems amid disruptions linked to extreme weather events.
Melvine Aoko Otieno, an assistant lecturer at the University of Eldoret, located in western Kenya, said African countries should realign climate mitigation and adaptation programs with the quest to boost the health of local communities.
Otieno stressed that improving health and nutritional outcomes for Africa's grassroots communities will be dependent on revitalizing climate action through robust adaptation financing and better policy coordination. ■