Climate change affecting health and well-being of communities — Chiponda

Minister of Health Malawi

Minister of Health Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda says the effects of climate change are increasingly impacting the planet and affecting the health and well-being of communities in Malawi.

Chiponda made the remarks on Tuesday 22 August during the opening of 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 change and build resilient health systems.

Speaking at the event, Chiponda said climate change at the global level is now regarded to be the greatest threat to human health, not only to the environment.

According to Chiponda, the threat and impact of climate change is more pronounced in developing countries like, Malawi which are not resilient to climate shocks.

“For example, Malawi is characterized on the Climate Change Index as one of the most vulnerable nations to climate change. From as early as 1946, Malawi has experienced major droughts and floods, and more than 600 disaster events have been recorded since then. From 1980 to date, there has been an increased frequency of extreme weather events and disasters in the country. For instance, tropical cyclones have affected the country almost one year after another.

“The Tropical Cyclone Freddy which affected us early this year was the worst ever in the history of the country causing the most devastating health impacts. This cyclone had more than 2,267,458 people affected, of whom 659,278 were displaced, 679 died, 537 went missing and 2,178 were left with injuries,” said Chiponda.

Chiponda also noted that the number of deaths, injuries and disabilities caused by climate-related disasters will continue to rise rapidly if urgent adaptation and mitigation measures are not implemented.

She added that there is need for African countries to unite and make sure that the issue of climate change impacts on health is addressed.

In her remarks, Amref Health Africa Group Director for Partnership and External Affairs, Desta Lakew, said Amref Health is very committed to addressing climate change on health and also making sure they help the people that have been affected by the effects of climate change.

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

She added: “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.”

According to Lakew, Amref will assist in presenting Africa’s common position on the issue of mitigating the impact of climate change on health to forums that will will help bring solutions to challenges affecting the Africa’s health sector due to climate change.

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.