Climate Change and Health Perspectives from Developing Countries

Climate change and health: perspectives from developing countries

Reda SadkiGlobal health

Today, the Geneva Learning Foundation’s Charlotte Mbuh delivered a scientific presentation titled “On the frontline of climate change and health: A health worker eyewitness report” at the University of Hamburg’s Online Expert Seminar on Climate Change and Health: Perspectives from Developing Countries.

Mbuh shared insights from a report based on observations from frontline health workers on the impact of climate change on health in their communities.

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The Geneva Learning Foundation, a Swiss non-profit, facilitated a special event “From community to planet: Health professionals on the frontlines of climate change” on 28 July 2023, engaging 4,700 health practitioners from 68 countries who shared 1,260 observations.

“93% of respondents believed that there was a link between climate change and health, and they reported a direct local experience of a wide range of climatic and environmental impacts,” Mbuh stated.

The most commonly reported impacts were on farming and farmland, the distribution of disease-carrying insects, and urban areas becoming hotter.

Health impacts linked to these climatic and environmental changes included increased malnutrition and/or undernutrition, increased waterborne diseases, and changes to the incidence and distribution of vector-borne diseases.

Mbuh emphasized that these impacts were particularly prevalent in smaller communities or mid-sized towns.

Mbuh highlighted the unique role of frontline health workers as trusted advisors to their communities: “Frontline health workers are trusted advisors of the communities that they serve, and they have unique insights to local realities and are strategically positioned to bring about change,” she said.

The Geneva Learning Foundation aims to leverage its digitally-enabled peer learning network of health workers to drive change across different levels of the health system and geographical boundaries.

Mbuh concluded : “These experiences demonstrate the importance of community engagement, sustainable practices, and support from relevant stakeholders in addressing the climate health nexus and building resilience in the face of a changing climate.”

The presentation underscored the urgent need to invest in frontline health workers at the local level to build resilience against the impacts of climate change on health, particularly in vulnerable communities in developing countries.

The event was organized by the International Expert Centre of Climate Change and Health (IECCCH) at the Research and Transfer Centre Sustainable Development and Climate Change Management, Hamburg University of Applied Sciences, in collaboration with the European School of Sustainability Science and Research (ESSSR), the UK Consortium on Sustainability Research (UK-CSR), and the Inter-University Sustainable Development Research Programme (IUSDRP).

Photo: The Geneva Learning Foundation Collection © 2024