The Honourable Minister of State for Health, Dr. Olorunnimbe Mamora has advocated for a multi-sectoral collaboration and initiative to combat planet health threats in Nigeria. Dr. Mamora made this call at a press briefing to commemorate the 2022 World Health Day with the theme "Our planet, Our health", on Thursday 7th April, in Abuja. The Minister revealed, that with the current impact of various environmental crises like climate change, avoidable pollution, food and waterborne diseases, emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases, as well as extreme weather events on the planet's health and every individual, it has become increasingly difficult to ignore.
These environmental crises the Minister said, has led to worsening non-communicable diseases, enhancing an ecosystem where various infectious diseases foster worsening air quality, food and water shortages and deteriorating mental health illness. Hence the need for environmentally friendly practices to be in place to lessen the harmful impact that climate change is having on patient health across the globe.
The health impacts from climate change primarily affect the vulnerable and the elderly populations disproportionately, especially low-income communities, minorities, children, and individuals with existing health conditions." According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 80 percent of climate change affects many children. It also impacts access to healthcare delivery services and disrupts primary health care infrastructure, healthcare utilities, ambulatory care services and communication systems, which are all critical to maintaining emergency medical treatment services. This calls for urgent action to safeguard our planet and our health in line with the World Health Day theme.
The Minister, informed that Government will bring together experts, policymakers, stakeholders, and development partners to set up a committee to discuss on the central scientific issues to improving and benefiting from healthy planet and respect for the integrity of living creature. The Federal Ministry of Health will reflect on the need for strategic ideas and priorities, which will be worked on in more details through the following: Prioritizing long term decision-making that stabilizes the welfare and security of Nigerians and their environment; Prioritizing efforts that will keep the private sector and other socio-economic organizations environmental and health goals in safe hands; Implementing policies that reduce the use of fossil fuels, fossil fuels subsidies, its exploration and shift projects to increase clean energy production and use; Increasing fossil fuels related tax as an incentive for carbon reduction; Implementing the WHO air quality guidelines and shifting the country towards a green economy by 2030.
These would serve as the basis for a framework for an Action Plan towards reducing human and planetary health threats. "The Federal Ministry of Health alone cannot achieve this, it needs various multidisciplinary and multi-sectoral actions and initiatives that are required at the national, regional, local and individual levels, Dr. Mamora stated."
Earlier, the WHO Head of Mission and Country Representative, Dr. Walter Mulombo, said that Nigeria's climate change is already increasing the vulnerability of health systems. Warming of 2-3°C is estimated to increase the higher risks of malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever, Lassa fever, cholera and other diseases especially in coastal regions such as Lagos and Port-Harcourt and in the Lake Chad Basin. With direct consequences for the key determinants of health, climate change is negatively impacting air and water quality, food security, and human habitat and shelter. The knock-on effect for the burden of heart and lung disease, stroke and cancer, among others, is evident from statistics that point to Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) representing a growing proportion of Africa’s disease burden including Nigeria.
In Nigeria and many part of African continent, NCDs are set to overtake communicable diseases, maternal, neonatal, and nutritional conditions combined to become the leading cause of death by 2030. COVID-19, along with spiralling obesity, diabetes and hypertension rates, compounds the challenge, highlighting the urgency of a multi-sectoral response. He went further to reveal that during the past two decades, most public health events have been climate-related, whether they were vector- or water-borne, transmitted from animals to humans, or the result of natural disasters. For example, diarrhea diseases are the third leading cause of disease and death in children younger than five in Africa, a significant proportion of which is preventable through safe drinking water, and adequate sanitation and hygiene.
By: Blessing Efem
Signed: A. A. A Chindaya
(Deputy Director Media & Public Relations)
7th April, 2022