During a powerful speech delivered at COP28, Zambia’s Health Minister emphasized the crucial link between climate change and health, emphasizing the disproportionate impact on nations such as Zambia.
The Minister proudly declared Zambia’s endorsement of the Declaration on Climate and Health, highlighting the inextricable connection between the climate crisis and its profound effects on public health. This includes challenges posed by droughts, floods, rising temperatures, and storms, which disproportionately affect vulnerable nations.
Despite notable progress in key health indicators in recent years, including a significant increase in health system financing from 8% to 11% under the UPND-led administration, Zambia’s health system faces substantial challenges.
The under-resourced health system is further strained by climate change, posing threats such as increased cases of malaria, diarrheal disease, respiratory issues, and undernutrition among vulnerable populations.
The Minister stressed the urgent need for a comprehensive approach to address the climate and health crisis, requiring strategic leadership. Zambia, however, has taken bold steps in this direction.
The Zambia National Adaptation Plan and National Health Adaptation Plan have been developed, outlining crucial steps aligned with the COP28 declaration.
The toll of climate change on human health in Zambia is evident, with heavy rains contributing to a rise in malaria and diarrheal disease cases, while droughts lead to malnutrition and stunting.
The Ministry of Health is fully committed to implementing policies and plans addressing climate change, including building resilient health infrastructure, promoting renewable energy in health facilities, strengthening disease surveillance systems, and adopting adaptive measures for climate-sensitive diseases.
Zambia’s proactive approach to climate and health issues aligns with global efforts at COP28. The Minister’s address serves as a call to action for the international community to prioritize and implement strategies that mitigate the adverse health impacts of climate change, particularly in vulnerable regions like Zambia.
As the world grapples with the complex challenges of climate change, Zambia stands as a testament to the importance of proactive and coordinated efforts to protect the health and well-being of its citizens.