Kenyan health experts say climate change fuelling disease burden – Xinhua

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NAIROBI, Aug. 19 (Xinhua) — Kenya is witnessing a spike in both infectious and non-communicable diseases as the climate crisis escalates in the country, experts said at a virtual forum in Nairobi on Thursday.

The experts said during a webinar on impact of climate change on Kenya’s health systems that extreme weather events such as droughts and floods had fuelled spread of disease causing pathogens.

Anthony Wainaina, deputy director of public health in the Ministry of Health said that higher incidences of malaria, dengue fever, cholera and typhoid have been reported in regions experiencing rising temperatures.

“There is no doubt climate change is having a negative effect on health outcomes in the country as the frequency and severity of water and vector borne diseases become the norm,” said Wainaina.

He said that pathogens that resist drugs have thrived against a backdrop of ecosystem disruption linked to climate change, thereby putting a strain on an already fragile public health infrastructure.

The Nairobi-based international health charity, Amref Health Africa partnered with Kenya Climate Innovation Centre (KCIC) to convene the forum that discussed the impact of climate change on human health in the country.

Senior policymakers, researchers and campaigners noted that climatic shocks had derailed Kenya’s quest to attain health related universal goals amid rapid spread of pathogens, food insecurity and pollution.

Martin Muchangi, a water and sanitation specialist at Amref Health Africa noted that droughts, floods, cyclones and forest fires linked to climate change were taking a toll on the continent’s urban and rural poor amid water scarcity, malnutrition and respiratory infections linked to air pollution.

Muchangi said that some of the high-impact interventions that could shield vulnerable populations from negative impacts of climate change include investments in clean water supply, sanitation, hygiene and climate-smart farming.

Solomon Nzioka, public health and environment expert at WHO Kenya Country Office said that disease outbreaks, compromised immune systems for local communities, hunger and water contamination were inevitable given the frequency of extreme weather events.

He said that investing in a resilient public health system, ecosystem restoration and early warning on impending natural disasters was urgent to minimize the negative health outcomes linked to climate change. Enditem