AFRICAN countries and leaders most confronted with the global food crisis, and health security issues must galvanize momentum and make a case for climate justice at the upcoming COP28 in November 2023 so as to turn words into actions on the ground.
They must collectively build on the outcomes of COP 27 by insisting on the operationalisation of the Africa ‘Loss and Damage’ Fund for Vulnerable Countries for investment into climate action initiatives.
These were the rallying words from Egypt’s Undersecretary for Preventive Affairs – Ministry of Health and Population, Dr Mohammad Abd El Fattah at the Africa Health Agenda and International Conference (AHAIC) in Kigali, Rwanda.
The continental forum which ended March 8, explored ways of building resilient health systems to respond to emerging and existing threats such as impacts of climate change.
The 5th edition of the AHAIC 2023 was held on the theme “Resilient Health Systems for Africa: Re-envisioning the Future Now.”
SHIP sets the stage for climate justice
COP27 adopted the Sharm el-Sheikh Implementation Plan (SHIP) as the main decision for guiding ambitious climate action with a historic breakthrough to help vulnerable countries deal with the Fund that finally sets a precedence for some climate justice.
Addressing delegates at the conference, Dr Fattah said “it is now the time to integrate Africa’s health issues into the established climate health vehicle and drag it highlighted, right there on the COP28 negotiation tables.”
Another key outcome of COP 27 was the launch of the Food and Agriculture for Sustainable Transformation initiative, which initiative aims to improve the quantity and quality of climate finance contributions to transform agriculture and food systems by 2030.
Collective efforts needed for success
According to Dr Fattah, health challenges facing African countries have become more intertwined and complex such that collective efforts to strengthen the continent’s health systems and face common challenges have become more urgent than ever.
Dr Fattah stressed that “in order to prepare for those upcoming challenges, large-scale collaboration steered by courageous inclusive leadership is needed to work as a united African front at global policy forums such as COP28 later in the year.”
“We need to act as one Africa, one health and to behave in the world community as one block so as to further explore the effects of climate change on health security and to address those effects on the health of populations in Africa,” he charged.
He stated further that, “if the world deliberately continues to look away, and if we, on our continent choose to remain speechless, like it or not, some existing health threats will intensify and new threats will emerge, but not everyone will be equally at risk. African children, more than any others, will mostly have to live – or die – with the consequences. Right here, right now is where action has to be taken. The world has to wake up, and change has to be made.”
Investment in appropriate infrastructure
Professor of Virology at the Redeemer’s University in Nigeria, Prof Oyewale Tomori maintained that building infrastructure that can help with early warning systems, labs and strengthening health systems during pandemics required heavy investment.
The huge time gaps between pandemics creates a diminishing capacity discouraging investment.