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African Experts Discuss Action on Climate Change and Health

17 April 2011: On the eve of the Fifth Conference of African Ministers of Health (CAMH5), a group of experts from African Union (AU) members States met to identify the major effects of climate change on health in Africa and to discuss actions to mitigate its impact.

Participants considered both direct and indirect impacts of climate change on health, including: facilitated spread or reintroduction of vector borne diseases, such as malaria, dengue and encephalitis; increased vulnerability through food insecurity as a consequence of climate change; loss of biodiversity and associated loss of opportunities to develop new drugs; spread of communicable diseases as a consequence of increased human and animal migrations; and spread of infectious diseases as water shortages lead to use of unhygienic water sources.

Experts discussed ways to manage these impacts through, among other approaches: evidence-based and climate-informed decisions on preventive actions to reduce vulnerability and mitigate additional burdens from climate sensitive diseases; anticipating, preparing for, and responding to health consequences of extreme weather events, including strengthening early warning systems; and researching to develop a better understanding of vulnerability and health implications of climate change.

The outcomes of the meeting are expected to feed into the CAMH5 and become part of an action oriented declaration to address climate-related health challenges, as well as other health initiatives. [AU Press Release] [Publication: The Impact of Climate Change on Health and Development in Africa - Overview of the Theme]