Kenya Exr

Climate change and its impact on health

Kenya ExrA farmer searches for a water point in the plains of Marsabit County, Kenya. A new WHO analysis recorded 39 disease outbreaks, floods and other acute public health events in the seven Greater Horn of Africa countries during the first 10 months of this year. ©WHO/Billy Miaron

WHO is responding to a growing number of humanitarian crises linked to climate change – from Pakistan’s floods to the Greater Horn of Africa drought – while helping countries around the world strengthen their health systems for the challenges ahead.

“The climate crisis is a health crisis,” WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a media briefing on 2 November. “Climate change is already impacting health in many ways, through more frequent and extreme weather events, more disease outbreaks and more mental health issues.”

WHO works through its more than 140 country offices to integrate climate action into its programs – from air quality and energy to disaster preparedness and nutrition. Through the new Alliance for Transformative Action on Climate and Health (ATACH), WHO has united more than 60 countries to take practical climate and health action on the ground.

During COP27, the United Nations’ annual climate meeting (November 6-18 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt), WHO and partners will ensure that health and equity remain at the center of negotiations.

This week we highlight stories about climate change and health from Haiti, Kenya, Lebanon, Malawi, the Marshall Islands, Syria, Uganda, and more.


Health and COP27

The WHO and the World Meteorological Organization launch, the first global knowledge platform dedicated to climate and health.

WHO is helping countries fighting the resurgence of an “old killer”

Cholera patient in the hospitalSo far this year, 29 countries have reported outbreaks of cholera, 13 of which had no outbreaks last year. Lebanon (above) is struggling with the first cholera outbreak in nearly three decades. ©WHO

The WHO is helping countries deal with this year’s surge in outbreaks of cholera, a disease linked to floods, droughts, conflict, population movements and other factors that limit access to clean water.

“Cholera is an old-fashioned killer, but it’s also one we can put an end to,” said Dr Tedros, WHO. “We know how to stop cholera before it starts: with safe water, and well-maintained sanitation and hygiene.”

The WHO provides cholera kits, vaccines, laboratory equipment, expert staff, rapid diagnostic tests, water purification and rehydration supplies and other tools needed to stop the life-threatening bacterial infection.

In October, the governments of Italy and Norway made special contributions to help the WHO fight a cholera outbreak in war-torn Syria, whose overstretched health system has reported 942 cases and 44 deaths.

⦁ Read about special contributions for Syria from Italy and Norway

⦁ See regional stories about WHO’s work against cholera in: Haiti, Lebanon and Malawi.

See also: Cholera’s resurgence in Haiti a reminder of how quickly disease spreads, says PAHO Director

Kenya ramps up health response as regional drought continues

Kenya Immunization ExrWHO’s Dr Adam Haji reviews an immunization register at an outreach site in Marsabit County. “We found a number of children who did not come back for vaccination, partly because they moved away from the health facility with their livestock in search of pasture,” he said. ©WHO/Billy Miaron

In drought-stricken parts of Kenya, WHO-supported outreach teams are treating children for malnutrition and providing other essential health services.

“People who are malnourished get sick more easily, and sick people get malnourished more easily,” says Dr Egmond Evers, WHO incident manager for food insecurity and drought for the Greater Horn of Africa. “The combination is very bad. We must step up control and response to outbreak-prone diseases and provide essential health services, including vaccines and treatment for severe malnutrition. It is not too late to save many more lives.”

Read more

Contact tracers and village health teams tackle Ebola in Uganda

Uganda ExrA village health team at work in Uganda. ©WHO/Billy Miaron

Health assistant Nyangoma Kirrungi has been working to stop the spread of Ebola since Uganda’s outbreak in September.

“Once they have recorded a confirmed case of Ebola, my team and I go into the field to follow up the patient’s contacts to ensure they are symptom-free and then we stay alert to identify and report symptoms should they develop ,” she said. said.

Climate change is a factor in the increase in Ebola cases over the past two decades, Dr Patrick Otim, WHO Africa’s incident manager for the Ebola outbreak in Uganda, told a news conference last week. He explained that bats and other animal hosts of the Ebola virus are driven to new areas when temperatures change or weather crises occur, sometimes bringing them into closer contact with humans.

Read more about the Ebola contact tracers

See also: World health agencies support Ugandan response to Ebola outbreak

Nepal fights record dengue outbreak with WHO support

Nepal ExrWarmer temperatures help disease-carrying mosquitoes to breed more quickly, and floodwaters provide breeding grounds. Above: stagnant water in Nepal. ©WHO/Christopher Black

The WHO is helping Nepal launch search-and-destroy campaigns to get rid of dengue-carrying mosquitoes as the country battles an outbreak that has infected some 42,000 people and killed more than 50 this year.

The Organization also provided 30,000 diagnostic kits, trained hundreds of medical personnel, conducted disease surveillance and worked on a publicity campaign to raise awareness about dengue.

Read more

WATCH: “Climate change and dengue”

Related news: New WHO initiative aims to stop the spread of malaria-carrying mosquitoes in Africa

Marshall Islands is strengthening its health systems to meet the challenges of climate change

Marshallislands ExrRising sea levels disrupt communities in the Marshall Islands. Above, Majuro village’s cemetery floods during high tide. ©WHO/Yoshi Shimizu

The WHO and the Marshall Islands are collaborating on an 18-month project to prepare the country for health emergencies related to climate change.

“Like the rest of the Pacific, the Marshall Islands are on the front lines of the climate crisis,” said Dr Mark Jacobs, WHO Director of Pacific Technical Support. “The evidence shows that the country is already facing increasing drought, sea level rise and flooding, all of which impact on health. But the country is also at the forefront of adapting and responding to this crisis, which is why we are proud to work with the Marshallese government on this project, with support from the Green Climate Fund. “

Read more

WHO targets fungi that threaten public health

Argentina ExrLaboratory samples at the Malbrán Institute in Buenos Aires, where scientists investigate antimicrobial resistance. ©WHO/Sarah Pabst

The WHO has published a report on the fungi that represent the greatest threat to public health, a step towards strengthening the global response to fungal infections, including those resistant to the treatments now used.

“Out of the shadows of the bacterial antimicrobial resistance pandemic, fungal infections are growing, becoming increasingly resistant to treatments, and becoming a public health concern worldwide,” said Dr Hanan Balkhy, WHO’s Assistant Director-General, Antimicrobial Resistance.

The geographic range of fungal diseases is expanding, evidence shows, spurred by global warming and an increase in international travel and trade.

Read more


WHO thanks all governments, organizations and individuals who contribute to the Organization’s work, and especially those who have made fully flexible contributions to maintain a strong, independent WHO.

Donors and partners featured in this week’s stories include: the Public Health Agency of Canada, CEPI, the European Union, Fiocruz, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network, the Green Climate Fund, Instituto de Medicina Tropical Pablo Kouri, Italy, Norway, Pasteur Institute International Network, USAID , US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Wellcome Trust and the World Meteorological Organization.

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