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Health community turns to UNFCCC for inclusivity – global issues

Community Health Assistants in Kenya

Community Health Assistants from Kenya. Credit: Friday Phiri/Amref
  • by Friday Phiri (receipt)
  • Inter-Press Office

“Knowing that some of the problems we currently face are the result of climate change helps us understand which diseases are common when it is dry or during heavy rains. That way we can raise awareness of which of the diseases common in Mandera, especially malaria, dengue and cholera, are likely to spread depending on the season,” are the sentiments of health assistants identified only as Nasra, Salima, Samlina and Ubah.

They are among more than 100 Community Health Assistants (CHAs) from Mandera County in Kenya who are part of Amref Health Africa’s ongoing nationwide training to build capacity on essential skills to tackle health challenges.

This illustrates the multiple layers of challenges that climate change poses to the healthcare sector, not only changing the spread and patterns of disease, but also complicating service delivery.

It is for this reason that the 194 Member States of the World Health Organization (WHO) at the just concluded 77th World Health Assembly (WHA 77) in Geneva, Switzerland, held a historic resolution on climate change and health.

The landmark decision marks a crucial step in the global effort to protect communities from the diverse negative health impacts of climate change, and calls for the health sector to decarbonize.

The escalating climate crisis is a major driver of poor health outcomes and threatens to undo fifty years of progress in development, global health and poverty reduction, while exacerbating existing health disparities both between and within populations. The associated costs for health damage are estimated by 2030 this will amount to between $2 and $4 billion annually. Regions with fragile healthcare infrastructure, especially in developing countries, will face the greatest challenges in coping without substantial assistance to strengthen their preparedness and response capabilities.

“The movement to position health as ‘the human face of climate change’ has gained significant momentum with the passage of this resolution, and I am deeply optimistic about its transformative potential,” said Dr. Githinji Gitahi, Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO). from Amref Health Africa and the COP28 Climate and Health Envoy for Africa.

“This marks a pivotal moment when world leaders have formally recognized the urgent need to tackle the intertwined environmental and public health crises with a unified, collaborative approach.”

However, there is still some work to be done as health is not yet part of the main agenda of climate negotiations at global level. The healthcare community has the daunting task of navigating the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) processes for a comprehensive global climate and health agenda.

However, it is worth noting that efforts have been made at global and regional levels, such as at COP26 in Glasgow, where the health community achieved an important milestone by putting human health at the forefront of climate change work, with initiatives in support of climate change. countries in developing climate-resilient and low-carbon sustainable healthcare systems.

At COP28, the Climate and Health Declaration set out similar commitments, including pledges of financial support to the sector to support climate and health actions.

At the 60th session of the UN Climate Change Subsidiary Bodies (SB60) in Bonn, Germany, the African constituency is looking for ways to actively participate in the discourse and ensure that African interests regarding the health impacts of climate change are well noticed.

During the preparatory meeting of the African Group of Negotiators ahead of SB60, the outgoing Chairman of AGN, Zambia, raised the climate and health agenda and encouraged negotiators to take a keen interest and actively participate in the climate and health discourse to set the African agenda, especially on climate change. the UAE and Belem’s Global Goal on Adaptation work program on indicators where health is one of the thematic objectives.

“A crucial point for us to consider in the context of the UAE-Belem work program is the inclusion of health as one of the thematic objectives. Rather than waiting for this agenda to be set by others, we as a group need to be actively involved. The work program gives us the opportunity to provide input in terms of how health should be integrated into the climate negotiations. As AGN we have the AAI, which stands out as a shining example of our ability to set our own agenda in these processes,” said Dr. Alick Muvundika, representing Zambia, as the outgoing chairman of the AGN.

Paragraph 9(c) of the GGA Decision at COP28 urges Parties and invites non-Party stakeholders to pursue the objectives of the GGA and increase ambition and increase adaptation action and support to achieve rapid accelerate action at scale and at all levels, from local to global, in line with other global frameworks, to; achieving resilience to the health impacts of climate change, promoting climate-resilient healthcare services and significantly reducing climate-related morbidity and mortality, especially in the most vulnerable communities.

In view of the decision, Africa’s healthcare sector, led by Amref Health Africa and partners, is leading efforts to support Africa’s active involvement in the UAE-Belem work program on indicators for the GGA framework, as well as general technical support for mainstreaming health in climate policy and plans.

At a meeting of African Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) with the President of AGN during the ongoing SB60, Martin Muchangi, Amref Health Africa Director for Population Health and Environment, said climate change is complicating health interventions and implementation, adding that “the visible consequences highlight that health is the human face of climate change.”

Muchangi informed the AGN Chairman of Amref’s availability and readiness to support the group to ensure that the yet-to-be developed indicators and related metrics of the thematic health objective in the GGA framework would be aligned with African ambitions in the light of the continent’s unique situation. circumstances and vulnerability.

“Amref and partners stand ready to support and ensure that the health impacts of climate change are systematically addressed through investments, capacity building, building strong and resilient healthcare systems, and ensuring that the voice of the reason and science gets us where we want to be,” Muchangi added.

And AGN President Ali Mohamed welcomed the World Health Organization (WHO) resolution on climate and health, saying it was a step in the right direction.

Ambassador Mohamed challenged civil society organizations to invest heavily in research to base Africa’s positions on well-founded evidence. He said the continent continues to grapple with climate-induced challenges, worsening the debt portfolios of most countries.

“I am aware of the climate and health agenda when the WHO adopted a resolution last week. This is a welcome step given the visible health impacts of climate change. The consequences for infrastructure, water and all other sectors ultimately have consequences for human health. For us, health is one of the thematic objectives of the Global Goal on Adaptation and as a group we are ready to engage further on this issue,” said the AGN President.

“My plea is for us, and I challenge you as civil society organizations to invest in research. Let us generate a formidable evidence base, building on the existing evidence base of Africa’s vulnerability and disproportionate impacts of climate change, so that our arguments in these processes are well-informed and clear,” Ambassador Mohamed added.

Amid all this, a recent report from the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), entitled ‘Building Africa’s Resilience to Global Economic Shocks’, indicates that climate shocks are generally highly correlated with the cyclical component of GDP -growth and not with the long term. -term trend in Africa, indicating that some of the volatility observed in growth stems from climate-induced shocks.

With the situation already volatile, as highlighted, stakeholders continue to push for integrated interventions, including the mainstreaming of health into climate policies and plans.

Note: The author is the Climate Change Health Advocacy Lead at Amref Health Africa.

IPS UN agency report

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© Inter Press Service (2024) — All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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