Scientists call for investment in climate change and health nexus research in Africa

Last Updated on: 24th August 2023, 09:38 am

By Lenah Bosibori

Nairobi I Scientists have called on more investment for research to help solve the serious problems climate change is having on people’s health.

Speaking during a webinar on prioritizing Health in Climate Change Action in Africa jointly organized by the African Institute for Development Policy (AFIDEP), London School of Tropical Medicine and the Amref, Jeni Miller, the Executive Director of Global Climate and Health Alliance said climate change is a very complex problem happening and it is having a very serious impact on people’s health.

“Climate change is a very complex problem, more research is needed, there is evidence to take action on climate change and health but we are still experiencing some gaps,” said Miller.

Miller added that there are many gaps in the evidence needed to properly support public health planning and community resilience to be prepared and warned about heat waves and extreme weather events.

Dr Bernard Onyango, Senior Research and Policy Analyst and BUILD Project Population, Environment and Development (PED) Director said it is important to note that the impacts of climate change on health are both directly and indirectly.

“We are interested in ensuring that health is prioritized within the climate change action,” said Dr Onyango who is also one of the project directors at the African Institute for Development Policy (AFIDEP).

To allay fears on capacity, Dr. Onyango said USAID-funded BUILD, which is a five-year project aims to empower actors in the climate space on integrated family planning, reproductive health and population environment and Development action.

“This BUILD project is really focusing on building political commitments towards reproductive, family planning and also exploring intersections between sexual reproductive health rights and climate change,” added Dr. Onyango.

Also read: Climate change impacts: Governments urged to invest in mental health infrastructure

“We also have the planetary health project which is providing evidence to the policy projections on climate change and health in Kenya supported by the children investment fund,” noted Dr Onyango.

He lauded the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which centred health as a major issue.

“For Africa, all across the sectors such as water scarcity, food production impacts on health, city development and infrastructure show increasing adverse impacts that are attributed to climate change,” according to Onyango.

Onyango reiterated the importance of always keeping our eyes on all pathways which are mediated through environmental conditions, social infrastructure and also the public health system capability.

Zakari Ali, a post-doctoral research fellow London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine MRC Unit The Gambia said there is a lot of data in Africa that people are sitting on which needs to support Africa’s climate advocacy.

“We have started setting up a Centre for Climate and Health for Africa in climate change. Our aim is to feed in with local African data and are thus inviting African Researchers across African institutions to contribute data on how climate change affects health,” said Ali.

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