Malawi is already experiencing negative effects due to climate variability and change, including an increase in flood events. According to the WHO UNFCCC Climate Change and Health Country Profile for Malawi, under a high emissions scenario, mean annual temperature is projected to rise by about 5.0°C on average from 1990 to 2100. If global emissions decrease rapidly, the temperature rise is limited to about 1.3°C.
Flooding already has had profound impacts on many communities in Malawi, and with climate change, the impacts will worsen. Vector-borne diseases, diarrhoeal diseases and malnutrition are all influenced by seasonal, inter-annual climate variability, and are predicted to increase with increasing temperatures. Heat-related deaths amongst the elderly are also predicted to increase.
For more information on climate and health in Malawi, read the WHO UNFCCC Malawi Country Profile here.
On 10 June 1992, Malawi signs the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which defines the adverse effects of climate change as inclusive of human health and welfare. The definition also includes the notion of the equity of production, including for future generations.
On 21 April 1994, Malawi ratifies the UNFCCC United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), showing the country’s commitment to addressing climate change issues nationally and globally through cooperation.
In February 1996, Parliament endorses the National Environmental Policy (NEP). The NEP, revised in 2004, provides an overall framework through which sectorial policies are reviewed to assess their consistency with the principles of sound environmental management. Health is included as a cross-cutting policy objective.
On 26 October 2001, Malawi ratifies the Kyoto Protocol, which commits 128 participating countries to cut emissions of greenhouse gases by over 5% below 1990 levels by 2008-2012. The Protocol is the first step towards reducing global impact on the climate system, thereby working to mitigate the impacts of climate change on human health.
Malawi publishes its National Strategy for Sustainable Development, covering nine thematic areas, including “Health and Sustainable Development”. The thematic areas outline various climate and health related goals, including improved research capacity on environment and diseases, reduced exposure to environmental hazards, and a strengthened health care system to reduce environmental threats.
Malawi develops its National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPA) by evaluating the impacts of adverse climatic conditions in eight important sectors of economic growth, including the human health sector, and ranks the identified activities using multi-criteria analysis to arrive at a list of fifteen urgent and immediate priority needs for adaptation.
Malawi signs the Libreville Declaration on Health and Environment in Africa, which stands as the umbrella framework upon which African countries and their development partners coherently address environmental determinants of human health.
The Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS) Adaptation Programme for Africa project was launched in Tanzania and Malawi. The Health and Climate Change Core Team (HCCCT) is established in Malawi in order to plan, formulate, implement and monitor the health component of the GFCS program.
The Polytechnic University of Malawi begins the development of a Climate Change and Health Vulnerability and Adaptation Assessment (V&A). The results of the V&A show that malaria, diarrhoeal diseases, and malnutrition are among the main causes of death in Malawi, all of which will be exacerbated by a changing climate.
Districts affected by the 2014-2015 floods convene to discuss lessons learned from their experience and reflect on ways to improve their existing district contingency plans, which formerly focused on cholera outbreak response. The workshop results in the development of enhanced flood response plans for the involved districts.
The Health and Climate Change Core Team (HCCCT) develops and integrates a Climate Change and Health module into the Malawi Health Surveillance Assistants’ 3-month official training curriculum. This marks an important step towards capacity building efforts as the Health Surveillance Assistants are the first point of contact between communities and the national health system.
The 14th IFEH World Congress on Environmental Health is held in Lilongwe, Malawi from the 3rd to the 6th of May 2016. This is the first time a Congress is held in the African country. The topic of the Congress is “Solving global emerging and prevailing health risks and challenges using environmental health strategies”.
On behalf of the HCCCT, the policy brief entitled, “How can Malawi reduce public health burden due to Climate Change?” is prepared by representatives from national government and academia with support from the WHO Malawi Country Office. The policy brief informs decision makers on the impacts of climate change and climate variation on public health outcomes and outlines policy options for building resilience.
The impact of El Niño on food and water security in Malawi generates momentum for improving Health Sector Emergency Response planning. In December 2016, two workshops are held for district representatives from various health zones in order to discuss responses to the latest El Niño droughts and revise their contingency plans. The workshops results in the incorporation of drought risk management into 19 district contingency plans.
On 20 September 2016, Malawi signs the Paris Agreement, which not only sets ambitious aims to curb greenhouse gas emissions, but pushes countries to develop adaptation plans that will protect human health from the worst impacts of climate change, such as droughts, heat waves, and floods.
Malawi begins the process of developing a Health National Adaptation Plan (H-NAP) that is aligned with both Malawi’s National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA) and the National Health Strategy.
In order to build awareness and improve communication regarding the health impacts of climate, the HCCCT begins to develop a National Climate Change and Health Communication Strategy in March 2017 with a workshop in Blantyre to define the document’s goals and objectives, and to identify the information needs of various different stakeholder groups.
The Climate and Health Country Profiles – 2015, compiled by WHO and UNFCC, provide a standard framework for gauging the national policy response to these issues. The table below shows the latest information for Malawi, updated in 2016.
|Country has identifed a national focal point for climate change in the Ministry of Health|
|Country has a national health adaptation strategy approved by relevant government body|
|The National Communication submitted to UNFCCC includes health implications of climate change mitigation policies|
|Country is currently implementing projects or programs on health adaptation to climate change|
|Country has implemented actions to build institutional and technical capacities to work on climate change and health|
|Country has conducted a national assessment of climate change impacts, vulnerability and adaptation for health|
|Country has climate information included in Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response (IDSR) system, including development of early warning and response systems for climate-sensitive health risks|
|Country has implemented activities to increase climate resilience of health infrastructure||NA|
|Estimated costs to implement health resilience to climate change included in planned allocations from domestic funds in the last financial biennium|
|Estimated costs to implement health resilience to climate change included in planned allocations from international funds in the last fnancial biennium|
|The national strategy for climate change mitigation includes consideration of the health implications (health risks or co-benefts) of climate change mitigation actions|
|Country has conducted valuation of co-benefts of health implications of climate mitigation policies|