The DG of the West African Institute of Public Health (WAIPH), Dr Francis Ohanyido, has urged Africa Climate Summit (ACS) and Africa Climate Week 2023 (ACW) participants to address climate change’s impact on human health and economic development in sub-Saharan Africa.
Ohanyido called at the Africa Climate Summit and Africa Climate Week 2023 in Nairobi, Kenya, for policymakers, practitioners, business leaders, and civil society representatives.
He implored attendees to collectively work towards formulating and implementing strategies and policies that mitigate and halt the detrimental effects of climate change.
“Africa is uniquely vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change, with tens of millions of Africans already experiencing negative health impacts,” he emphasised.
These include heat stress, extreme weather events, and increased transmission of infectious diseases, as reported by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
According to Ohanyido, the dire situation is further exacerbated by increased climate-linked emergencies, with 25 per cent more climate-related events recorded in the region between 2011 and 2021.
He quoted recent research showing that climate change poses significant challenges to primary healthcare services in Africa, leading to malnutrition, infectious diseases, heat-related conditions, injuries, and more.
The DG noted that the effects of climate change in SSA are far-reaching, encompassing not only human health but also economic development and growth.
“The urgency of addressing these issues cannot be overstated,” says Ohanyido. “The government of Kenya is hosting both events from September 4 to 8, with the Africa Climate Summit from September 4 to 6. “This represents a critical opportunity to chart a new course for climate action in Africa.”
Ohanyido emphasised that Africa should not have to choose between climate action and development.
In his submission, it is imperative to pursue a greener developmental path while recognising the historical connection between economic growth and carbon emissions.
He admitted that Africa is pivotal in global climate efforts, boasting invaluable green assets and renewable energy potential.
The WAIPH DG outlined: “These factors underscore the importance of Africa’s voice and participation in shaping the global response to climate change.”
Therefore, he said the WAIPH stands in solidarity with all participants of the Africa Climate Summit and Africa Climate Week 2023.
He implored them to prioritise the health and well-being of Africa’s people, as well as the sustainable development of the continent.
The Director-General also encouraged active dialogue, collaboration, and the development of innovative solutions during these events and beyond to ensure that Africa’s future is one where climate change no longer threatens the health and prosperity of its people.