Policy Brief 12 : Climate Change and Health in Africa: Issues and Options
Climate change is expected to alter temperature, air movements and precipitation in various ways and to varying degrees across Africa, and this will have important consequences for human health. Climate change effects on human health, along with the additional impact on the environment and on the economies of African countries, are likely to impede development. African countries will suffer health consequences related to the effects of climate change as their people are among the most vulnerable to climatic change in the world. This vulnerability is due in part to existing problems of poverty, weak institutions and armed conflict. These limit the capacity of African countries to deal with the additional health challenges posed by climate change. However, the type and magnitude of the health impacts of climate change will vary significantly among communities and regions. Variations are due to such factors as geographic and micro-climate differences, socio-economic conditions, the quality of existing health infrastructure, communication capacity, and underlying epidemiology. Importantly, Africa has already begun to address climate and health issues. From a policy perspective, it is important to determine what might be done differently to address health concerns across Africa given that climate is expected to change in some predictable ways. In some cases doing more of the same may be appropriate (e.g. using mosquito nets and other measures to prevent malaria). In other cases completely different approaches to health care may be needed.