Climate Change May Cause 250,000 Deaths by 2050 – CAPPA

Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) says the effects of undernutrition, malaria and other diseases as a result of climate change may lead to 250,000 deaths by 2050.

According to CAPPA, empirical findings have established that 3.6 billion people of the world’s population reside in areas highly vulnerable to climate change, with more than 70 per cent of Africans in this category.

The CAPPA Programme Manager on Climate Change, Ogunlade Olamide Martins made this known on Monday during a presentation to mark the 2024 World Health Day Celebration virtual event themed “Our Health, Our Right”.

In the presentation titled “Climate Change and Health, Connecting the dots, shaping our decisions,” Martins emphasised that climate change is causing existential crises and human health is not exempted.

His words: “Climate change is expected to cause approximately 250 000 additional deaths between 2030-2050 because of undernutrition, malaria, diarrhoea, and heat stress alone; Agriculture and water and sanitation is estimated to cover the highest immediate cost put for between US$ 2–4 billion per year by 2030.

“Others are humanitarian emergencies triggered by heat waves, wildfires, floods, tropical storms and hurricanes in scale and quantum with climate chiefly responsible – and Africa and the entire global south with least coping capacities and heath infrastructures will struggle to respond.

“Physical environment including natural, social, and economic conditions and the functioning of health systems are now susceptible to the impacts of climate change. Climate change is a threat multiplier which has gravely undermined and potentially taking development off the grip of humanity.

“Storms, extreme heat, floods, droughts, and fires are observed as climate conditions change more frequently and steadily. The risks of death, non- communicable diseases, the emergence and spread of infectious diseases as well as health emergencies are directly or indirectly affected by these weather and climatic hazards.”

Martins further explained that World Health Organization (WHO) data indicates that two billion people lack safe drinking water and 600 million suffer from foodborne illnesses annually, with children under 5 bearing 30% of foodborne fatalities.

He noted that the risk of waterborne and food borne diseases increases because of climate conditions.

“In 2020, 770 million people, predominantly in Africa and Asia, were suffering from hunger. The effects of climate change on food availability, quality, and diversity, as well as on food and nutrition crises, are exacerbated by climate change. More than 930 million people are spending at least 10 % of their household budgets on health care, which accounts for about 12% of the world’s population.

“With the poorest people largely uninsured, health shocks and stresses already currently push around 100 million people into poverty every year, with the impacts of climate change worsening this trend.

“The impact of climate change on the health workforce and infrastructure, as well as reducing our ability to ensure that all citizens have access to healthcare. In particular, the environment and societal determinants of physical and mental health are being impaired by climate shocks and increasing stress caused by changes in weather patterns, droughts, floods, or sea level rise. Climate change affects all aspects of health from clean air, water and soil to food systems and living conditions.”

While commenting on the impacts of climate change on health, Martins stressed that the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s report predicts that climate risks are increasing faster than previously expected and will become more serious before the end of the century because of increased global warming.

He suggested that the aforementioned will be harder for adaptation to take place.

He added: “Low-income countries still bear the most severe health impacts, despite a modest contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions. Deaths from extreme weather events have increased by 15 times over the last ten years at vulnerable regions, compared to low-risk areas.”

Martins also said that climate change is causing massive disruption in food systems, increases in zoonoses and food, water and vector-borne diseases, and continue to escalate mental health issues.

He mentioned that determinants to good health are equally being undermined by climate change with livelihoods, equality and access to health care and social support structures dwindling at alarming rates across the world with profound threats in Africa.

“Climate induced health risks are disproportionately felt by the most vulnerable and disadvantaged, including women, children, ethnic minorities, poor communities, migrants or displaced persons, older populations, and those with underlying health conditions.

“While climate change affects human health, it remains challenging to accurately estimate the scale and impact of many climate-sensitive health risks but with advances in science, we can attribute the progressive increase in morbidity and mortality to global warming, and more accurately determine the risks and scale of these health threats.”

Delving into climate and equity, he explained that in the short to medium term, climate change’s health impact will be determined mainly by population vulnerability, their resilience in current climatic changes and its scope and rate of adaptation.

He stated that the impact will be increasingly dependent on the extent to which transformational action is currently taken to limit emissions and prevent breaching of critical temperature thresholds and possible irreversible threshold values.

“While no one is protected from these risks, it is only fair to consider the plights of people whose contributions are insignificant to global emissions and who seems to be living on borrowed times.

“Closing the climate change’s health gaps and its associated burdens is not a debate as it underscores the equity and justice. Africans should be prioritized as highest beneficiaries in mitigation and adaptation interventions for the reasons mentioned.”

He further highlighted the need for urgent actions, maintaining that “to avert catastrophic health impacts and prevent millions of climate change-related deaths: The world must limit temperature rise to 1.5°C leveraging home grown policies and pro people nationally determined contributions (NDC).

“International instruments for climate change control must be binding on states and not just be political statements for global politics. Government must promote actions that both reduce carbon and methane emissions. Health care must been mainstream into climate change programming and Vise versa.”

Other urgent actions pointed out are; “Government must integrate climate risk and implement climate-informed surveillance and response systems and bridge the financing gap for health adaptation and resilience. Members of the public should be more deliberate in tree planting to absorb dangerous gases in the atmosphere and reduce carbon footprint. Investment in reclamation, restoration and environmental reparations must be progressive and result targeted.”

Hope Ejairu

Hope Ejairu is a writer, sports analyst and journalist, with publications on print and digital media. He holds certifications in various media/journalism trainings, including AFP.

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