The world’s climate is changing inherently and leading to negative health impacts. Globally, directly attributable health impacts are due to heat waves, rising sea levels, drought and disasters due to flash floods and windstorms. Indirect health impacts result from climatic changes affecting water quality, air pollution, land use change and ecological disequilibrium of vectors population. The net results are increased in the morbidity and mortality of many climate-sensitive diseases including infectious diseases, cardiovascular diseases, respiratory diseases and mental illness amongst others. The African continent is particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Countries of this continent differ in their topology, geography, political governance, health infrastructure and socio-demographic profiles. These differences impart varying degree of vulnerability towards health consequences of climate change and need to be systematically addressed in order to reduce the associated health inequity and meet the goal of Universal Health Coverage. Health is inextricably linked to development and therefore climate change may have profound socio-economic impacts in Africa. This in turn will affect socioeconomic development, and the realization of Sustainable Development Goals.
The vulnerability of the health sector will increase in the coming decades leading to higher disease burden with associated health cost and impaired socio-economic development. Climate change will invariably lead to an increase of communicable diseases and will exacerbate the effects of the already high prevalence of non-communicable diseases leading to increased rate of cardiovascular diseases, strokes, renal diseases to create a situation of double burden of communicable and non-communicable diseases, including injuries and worsening of nutrition and food security. The health sector will bear the brunt of negative impacts of spill-over effects from other sectors and will have to increase health care provision and other services.
African policymakers particularly need to be briefed to enable them plan and take appropriate actions, so as to avert any health emergencies and other catastrophes. Policymakers need clear and concise documents of the existing evidence on climate change and health. This project will analyze the situation on climate change and health in Africa and produce science-based recommendations. The Regional report will be published and launched by 2021 to engage regional policymakers, the scientific community and other relevant stakeholders, including WHO. NASAC is responsible for the Africa report, which together with reports from other regions undertaken by other regional networks will contribute the global IAP report on the same topic.