Experts discuss the need for health forecasts as Climate Change impacts persist

News and Press Release
Originally published
View original

ECA Press Release No. 39/2011

Addis Ababa, 06 April 2011 (ECA) - The second Pan-African Climate and Health workshop concluded Wednesday, April 6, in Addis Ababa as part of ongoing debates that will see Africa speaking with one voice on health at the December 2011 17th Conference of Parties (CoP 17) to take place in Durban, South Africa.

Addressing journalists during a conference organized by the Information and Communication Service of the Economic Commission for Africa, Dr. Judy Omumbo, Associate Research Scientist from the International Research Institute for Climate and Society at Columbia University's Earth Institute said, "The workshop was a moment of celebrating a decade of understanding the relationship between climate and health."

According to the workshop organizers, the impacts of climate change are already exposing the entire Africa region to famine and serious health concerns. These are compounded by a health sector that is suffering from inadequate infrastructure; insufficient health personnel; poor medical equipment and health information systems; and unreliable supply chains for essential medicines, compound people's overall health on.

"This is an African driven agenda - we consider the farmer, we consider the people who live in poor conditions," emphasized Dr. Omumbo.

Youba Sokona, Coordinator of ECA's African Climate Policy Centre (ACPC) said that discussions focused on the climate change and climate adaptation programmes currently in place; as well as the kind of data and research priorities and initiatives that are based on the needs Africans.

"This was an effort to engage a dialogue between those who do not talk to each other, including practitioners in the health sector, climatologists, meteorologists, and policy makers." He said and added that through dialogue, information from these diverse actors should feed into health sector policies.

For his part, meteorologist, Wayne Elliot from the UK told the press conference that efforts in the right direction linking climate and health include going one step further with weather forecasts and introducing health forecasts.

"We are trying to develop health forecasts for such diseases as meningitis, malaria, pneumonia - to warn people about risks that are coming their way," He said.

The workshop was organized by the Ethiopian Climate and Health Working Group in collaboration with the African Climate Policy Centre (ACPC), WHO Africa Regional Office, UNDP, the UK Meteorological Office (UK Met), Exeter University, UK, and the International Research Institute for Climate and Society, USA.

During the workshop, a Memoranda of Understanding to enhance research in this area was also signed between the Ethiopia Anti-Malaria Association and the African Centre for Meteorological Application for Development (ACMAD).