•The CS said climate change has greater impacts on health systems in developing countries including Kenya
•Kenya is in the process of establishing the first Air Pollution Centre of Excellence in Sub-Saharan Africa
The implementation of commitments to combat climate change has been hampered by inadequate capacity and strained financial resources, health CS Susan Wafula has said.
Speaking during the climate change and health side event at the ongoing 76th World Health Assembly in Geneva, the CS said climate change has greater impacts on health systems in developing countries including Kenya since they have the least capacity to adapt and mitigate the threats.
She gave examples of malnutrition, starvation, and deaths from extreme weather events like the recent prolonged drought in the Horn of Africa that has now been followed by heavy rains and flooding in some places.
“The country and the region have been reporting increased diarrhoeal diseases, the second biggest killer of young children, the elderly and pregnant women,” she said.
“Furthermore, climate-sensitive conditions like cardiovascular and respiratory diseases among other infectious diseases and malnutrition are projected to continue rising,” she added.
She has called on health leaders to ensure that the health sector has equal and open access to global climate financings mechanisms such as the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF), among other funding streams.
She however reiterated Kenya’s commitment to prioritise the mainstreaming of climate change across all Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) at policy and implementation levels.
For instance, she noted that Kenya is in the process of establishing the first Air Pollution Centre of Excellence in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Similarly, there is an ongoing regional partnership led by the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), the Ministry of Health, and partners, supported by the UK's National Institute of Health Research (NIHR).
The project aims to inform national strategies for the clean energy transition in the cooking sector, addressing the health, gender, environmental, and climate impacts of polluting cooking fuels.
“We have undertaken climate and health vulnerability and adaptation assessments and developed strategies to address climate change and household air pollution,” she said.
The 76th World Health Assembly has officially begun in Geneva, Switzerland.
The World Health Assembly is the decision-making agency of WHO.
It is attended by delegations from all WHO Member States and focuses on a specific health agenda prepared by the Executive Board.