Abuja, 19 February 2020 – Mr Ayeo Olomiete, a health officer from Bayelsa State says “my community has been experiencing flood which always affects the entire area, displacing families and causing damage to health facilities almost every year. Before, we neither understood what the problem was, nor know what exact action to take.”
Speaking at a Sensitization/Training Workshop on Mitigation and Adaptation to Climate Change and Greening of the Health Sector held in Abuja recently, Alhaji Mashi Abdullahi, the Permanent Secretary Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) said, “Healthcare workers can help address the problems and impacts of climate change on health and welfare through knowledge on mitigation and adaption.”
As a participant at the capacity building activity, Mr Olomiete said the training was timely, which “has not only improved our knowledge and skills about climate change, but also helped us to know in practical terms, what specific actions need to be taken to mitigate against disastrous/deleterious effects of climate change in the health sector.”
Climate change has become a defining issue of the 21st century. Together with air pollution, climate change constitutes one of the top 10 threats to global health in 2019 as expressed at the World Health Assembly. WHO estimates that between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 250 000 additional deaths per year globally, from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea and heat stress alone; this was estimated to translate to direct damage costs to health of between USD 2-4 billion per year.
In 2012, flood displaced 2 million people in Nigeria, additional 100000 in 2015, 92000 in 2016, 250000 in 2017, and in 2018, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) reported that 1.9 million people were affected.
Morbidity and mortality associated with climate change could arise from more frequent outbreaks of endemic and emerging water borne and vector borne infectious diseases such as cholera, Lassa fever, cholera as well as injuries and mortality that follow extreme weather events, like heatwaves and floods.
In his remarks during the capacity strengthening event, WHO Nigeria Officer In-Charge, Dr Peter Clement commended organizers of the training and establishment of climate change officers in the 36 states+1of Nigeria as steps in the right direction, “this will help the nation to mitigate and adapt to climate change and build resilience of the health sector.”
He further noted that there are lots of co-benefits of greening the health sector; these ranges from reduced health care cost through prevention of communicable and non-Communicable diseases to strengthening inter-sectoral approach towards UHC.
Nigeria is committed to reduce Greenhouse Gas Emission by 20% unconditionally and 45% with international support, according to the Department of Climate Change.
As part of the steps towards refocusing on the climate change issues in Nigeria, the Federal Ministry of Environment ( FMOE) established the Department of Climate Change (DCC), saddled with the responsibilities of implementing climate change policies and programmes, More actions such as tree planting, switch to renewable energy, training and campaigns, better transport, food and energy-use choices that can result in improved health, particularly through reduced air pollution are needed in all sectors to reduce emissions of Green House Gases thereby limiting the adverse consequences of climate change.
WHO remains committed to supporting Nigeria to building climate-resilient health systems and tracking national progress in protecting health from climate change.