Malawi Develops a National Communication Strategy on Climate Change and Health

19 July 2017

Image: Participants at the workshop in Blantyre discuss appropriate communication tools to meet the information needs of each stakeholder group targeted in the National Climate and Health Communication Strategy.

The impacts of climate change on health are many and will have significant impacts in countries where health systems are under resourced and overburdened. Through the GFCS Climate Services Adaptation Programme in Africa, WHO has supported the Government of Malawi in implementing a number of initiatives to address the impacts of climate change on health.

A key first step is effective communication, including a plan for mobilising action and engaging communities and various levels of government. Information priorities and key messages vary across different audiences, all which are integral to effective mobilisation of the programme. For this reason, the Malawi National Climate Change and Health Communication Strategy (NCCHCS) is an integral part of the GFCS Climate Services Adaptation Programme.

In tandem with programmatic efforts to address climate change and health in Malawi, the strategy will improve communication between the climate and health communities. It will also help mobilise necessary resources for and shape the implementation of the National Climate Change Policy. The Ministry of Health and the Department of Meteorological Services and Climate Change will be able to use this national communication strategy to increase public awareness and share information on climate change and seasonality. By establishing information needs and clear ways to share this information, the strategy will support programmes and non-governmental organisations that are working to address the impacts of climate change and to strengthen the overall resilience of vulnerable communities.

Development of the strategy began in the beginning of 2017. A multi-stakeholder workshop in Blantyre brought together key players from across sectors and government ministries including journalists, medical professionals and policy makers to provide feedback on communication goals, mechanisms, and the communication channels outlined in the draft strategy. Using group exercises, the workshop identified target audiences and provided feedback on information needs for each group.

The workshop highlighted a number of challenges facing climate and health outcomes in Malawi. Overall, there is a lack of clear communication that climate and health are cross-cutting issues, which should be integrated into the planning of many different sectors, from environment and health to education and labour. As the level of awareness and understanding of the relationship between climate change and health is still low, key messages on the impacts of climate change and health and how to address them should be targeted at varied audiences: policymakers, health professionals, media, local authorities, and community members.

The finalisation of the strategy and implementation of its early phases mark an important milestone for the Government of Malawi and the GFCS Climate Services Adaptation Programme in Africa and a significant step towards addressing the challenges facing Malawi in its efforts to build climate-resilient health systems.

If interested to learn more about the experience and approaches taken in Malawi, please contact Mr. Hendricks Mgodie, Climate Change Focal Point at the MOH for more information: