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Climate Change and Increasing Risk of Disease Outbreaks in Africa

Across Africa, diseases transmitted by bloodsucking insects – including ticks, fleas and sandflies as well as mosquitoes – are emerging and re-emerging, and epidemics are reported more frequently than before.

Evidence is mounting that climate change – in addition to population movements and deficient urban planning – is contributing to these public health crises which place huge socio-economic burdens on vulnerable populations in low-capacity countries.

Gabriel Mabikina, an 80-year-old retired businessman in the port city of Pointe-Noire in the Republic of Congo commented on the many changes in his city.

“In the neighborhoods there are a lot of mosquitoes. A lot, lot, lot of mosquitoes,” said Mabikina.

Mabikina’s observations about the profusion of mosquitoes are supported by surveys conducted in the affected area which reveal high densities of Aedes aegypti, the mosquito that spreads Yellow Fever.

Following the declaration of a Yellow Fever outbreak in the Republic of Congo in August 2018, Mabikina was among the more than 1 million people who turned up to be immunized during a vaccination campaign against the disease in September.

According to The 1.5 Health Report, a synthesis of the health content of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report on global warming of 1.5C, climate change may put more people at risk of other infectious diseases including other insect-borne diseases such as malaria and Dengue Fever and waterborne disease such as cholera, typhoid and hepatitis.

In addition to the impact of infectious diseases, climate change poses other health risks from increased flooding and sea-level rise, reduced air quality and food insecurity.

In response to the increasing climate-related health threats, member states in African region in 2016 adopted the Regional Strategy for Health Security and Emergencies which, along with the International Health Regulations, aims at strengthening countries’ capacities to detect, prevent and response to public health emergencies.

Source: WHO


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