Climate change a threat to human health- Minister

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The Minister of Health Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda has said the adverse effects of climate change are increasingly impacting, not only the environment but also the health and well-being of communities.

She made the remarks in Lilongwe Tuesday, when she opened a regional workshop on health for delegates from Africa, Europe and organisations dealing with climate change and health aimed at uniting diverse African stakeholders to drive policy changes and build resilient health systems.

“As we all know; climate change is no longer a distant threat. It is a reality that we are seeing and feeling every day. It is no longer something that we just talk about. Climate change, at the global level, is now regarded to be the greatest threat to human health. The threat and impact of climate change is more pronounced in developing countries like Malawi, which are not resilient to climate shocks such as extreme weather events and disasters.

“As Africa we need to have a common position, you are aware that there is COP28 (climate change conference) which will be held in Dubai, December this year, the conference is a rare opportunity for us to have discussions because we get so many countries and partners gathered at one place,” she said.

Minister of Health, Khumbize Chiponda-speaking during the opening of the workshop.

Chiponda said that African countries should unite if the issue of climate change impacts on health is to be addressed.

She said for first time there will be a day dedicated to health, saying the health sector in all member states have experienced crises, health emergencies such as draughts and waterborne diseases, among others due to the impact of climate change.

“Let us have a common position as Africa, all of you are pushing the 2063 agenda which is being championed by African Union and all of us are striving that by 2063 we need to move from where we are and be more productive and more resilient,” the Minister said.

She then called for financial partners to provide additional funding opportunities for sustaining climate and health research and actions in the African Region.

Cross section of the patrons during the opening of the workshop.

Amref Health Africa Group Director for Partnership and External Affairs, Desta Lakew said as Amref Health Africa they are committed in addressing the impacts of climate change on health.

“Amref Health Africa has taken a significant interest and commitment in ensuring that health is at the centre of every climate conversation, here in Malawi you have seen the effects of climate change on the health, communities, women and children.

“With partners such as; PACJA, World Health Organisation, Ministries of Health and the government officials we are committed to work with Africa to negotiate and come up with a common position in addressing the impacts of climate change on health,” Lakew said.

She added that, as an organization, they also ensure that they assist in presenting the Africa’s common position on the issue of mitigating the impact of climate change on health to forums that will help to bring solutions to challenges affecting the Africa’s health sector due to climate change.

Some of the patrons following the proceedings of the workshop.

“We will take this common position with us to Botswana WHO meeting and work with Africa Health leaders’ policy forum to brief our Ministers of Health to the Africa Climate summit in Kenya, take it to the UN General Assembly’s climate summit and COP28.

A representative of the World Health Organisation in Malawi, Ishmael Nyasulu said the organisation is committed to supporting countries towards building climate resilient and carbon health systems by supporting health community engagement in the climate change forums.

The three-day regional workshop is funded by the WellCome Trust in partnership with the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA), Amref Health Africa and African Institute for Development Policy (AFIDEP) in partnership with the Government of Malawi and World Health Organization in Lilongwe, Malawi.

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