African islands send SOS

African island states are expecting more support in handling the health impact of climate change. They are struggling with a deteriorating access to nutritional food and return of mosquito-borne diseases[1].

Returning droughts and unexpected weather changes make African farmers suffer huge losses, which causes numerous dramatic situations among local communities. According to WHO (World Health Organisation, at least 23 per cent of deaths in Africa are related to environmental factors.

“What is worse, this number is expected to rise as global warming disrupts food supply, water sources and weather patterns”, said Magaran Bagayoko, WHO’s director of communicable diseases in Africa.

The main problem is the continuously impaired access to clean water and although a lot has been done in Africa to improve this situation, the results are still not satisfactory. Island countries are suffering from this crisis the most.

The crisis has also struck healthcare and disease prevention. “There is a very direct link between the impact of climate change and the cost of healthcare”, said Jean Paul Adam, health minister of Seychelles, an archipelago in the Indian Ocean. These changes are putting the state budget to a heavy test. With climate change, including disrupted rainfall, prevention against the Denga virus or other mosquito-borne diseases has become much costlier for the past 10 years. Dengue outbreaks used to happen only during the rainy season, which lasted a few months a year. Now, rain is unpredictable and comes year round, as does the disease”, adds the Seychelles minister.

Irregular rainfall provide not only good conditions for mosquito-borne diseases but also hygiene-related ones, like cholera. Droughts, which result in lower production of local food, are also becoming a problem.

Cape Verde has been struggling with the spectre of local food shortages for several years now. As local agriculture suffers, import is necessary, but this poses new problems. Imported food turns out to cause other health problems as diabetes or heart disease, so far not seen here on a larger scale.


[1] https://www.canberratimes.com.au/environment/climate-change/african-islands-send-sos-as-climate-change-worsens-health-20181109-p50ex5.html