Posters focusing on climate change and health at the ICCS5

Cape Town, 28th February – 2nd March 2017

Poster session2

The Fifth International Conference on Climate Services (ICCS 5) was held in Cape Town, South Africa from 28th February to 2nd March 2017. Often in the past, climate services was taken to denote early warning systems, tools for the agriculture, water or environment sectors, but rarely focusing on human health. This conference was different. There were a number of impressive and noteworthy poster presentations specific to health and climate change that highlighted learning from current work in the field.

A constant theme of the conference was the institutional divides between meteorologists and those having to use and act on the information, namely policy and programme decision-makers, and specialists in fields that will be affected by climate change. From Botswana, Dr. Vitalis Goodwell Chipfakacha, a public health specialist and Coordinator on Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction for the SADC region, presented the poster “Lost in Translation: Opportunities to improve health sector access to climate information.” This highlighted opportunities to improve health sector access to climate information across the SADC Region through improved translation and communication as well as improving access to climate information. According to Dr Chipfakacha, lack of adequate use of available climate information means that sectors are not able to respond to disasters. He presented these factors as:

  1. Climate information is not understandable or appropriately tailored to decision makers’ needs. The language of uncertainty around scenearios or impacts is not something many policymakers are comfortable with.
  2. The language used by climate scientists, such as forecasts being “normal” or “above normal” is not understood by sector users and is therefore not used in planning for disasters.
  3. There is limited participation of policymakers in events where meteorlogical information is made more accessible, possibly due to a lack of understanding of the importance of incorporating the climate element in plans and policies.

Additional posters on Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS) capacity building projects in Malawi and Tanzania (by Hendricks Mgodie and Hussein Mohamed respectively) outlined ways to improve climate services to better meet the needs of health sectors in each country. In Malawi, climate-based health advisories use meaningful, actionable messages to address targeted audiences and facilitate better anticipation of disease risks. In Tanzania, there is a lack of training on climate change and health in health institutions. In light of this, capacity building of different audiences within the health sector aimed to improve access, understanding, and utilization of climate services as well as mainstream climate information into health sector planning and decision-making.

Chipfakacha_Lost in Translation
Hendricks_Climate-based Health Advisories to Strengthen Community Health Capacity in Malawi
Mohamed_Capacity Development and Research on Climate Services and Health

Other posters focused on the effects of El Niño, the use of different climate system tools in the health sector, the importance of capacity building and of creating information tailored to decision-makers. To view these posters, click the links below.

Walker Institute ICCS5
Deluca ICCS5
Ballester ICCS5
Climate services for the health sector: Long-Lead El Niño forecasts to predict dengue Risk in El Oro, Ecuador - Author: Desislava Petrova
An interactive model to climate vulnerability impact assessment mapping in the health sector (Malaria disease) - Author: Grace Koech