First high-level public debate on climate change and health in Mozambique advocates for multi-sectoral responses

22 June 2017

Climate change is already being felt in Mozambique. Since 1960, temperatures have increased by 0.6 ºC and mean annual rainfall has decreased by an average of 2.5 mm per decade. Maximum temperatures are reaching unprecedented levels. Rainy seasons have commenced later, and dry spells have lasted longer. The occurrence of extreme weather events, including droughts, floods, and cyclones, has increased since 1950.

The impacts of climate change have far-reaching consequences for the people of Mozambique, who still largely depend on natural resources, subsistence farming, and fishing for their livelihoods. Climate change, climate variability, and extreme weather events have direct and indirect impacts on population health outcomes. Climate-sensitive diseases, such as malaria, diarrhoeal disease and malnutrition, are all influenced by climate variability, which is likely to be exacerbated by climate change.

Adaptation in the health sector is urgent and requires a strong understanding of the current risks and vulnerabilities within the national health system. However, evidence on the impact of climate change on disease occurrence is scarce and the overall awareness of climate-related health risks remains limited within the country.

It is against this backdrop that the National Observatory of Health organized a public debate to promote joint reflection on Climate Change and Health in Mozambique. The debate was held on 22 June 2017 with the main purpose of sensitizing key actors and civil society on current and future impacts of climate change in the health sector. It also aimed to build support for a multi-sectoral response to mitigate the impact of climate change on health.

The objectives of the public dialogue were to:

  • Increase national awareness of the impact of climate change on health;
  • Share global trends in climate change;
  • Share national and global scientific evidence on potential impacts of climate change on health;
  • Support the Strategic Environmental Health Plan by bringing representatives from a range of sectors to discuss join action;
  • Disseminate the first report on the impact of climate on health (malaria and diarrhoeal diseases) in Mozambique

Mozambique’s first report on Climate Change and Health Sector Vulnerability

The report, developed with the support of USAID, was presented by the Coordinator of the Observation Platform for Climate, Environment and Health of the National Health Observatory, Dr. Tatiana Marrufo, and one of its collaborators, Dr. James Colborn. It reflects the joint efforts of national and international scientists, representing a significant advance in the understanding between climate change and malaria and diarrheal diseases in Mozambique. The main findings of the report detail the influence of climatic variables, such as temperature and precipitation, on the incidence of malaria and diarrheal diseases.

The dialogue was moderated by the General Director of the Instituto Nacional de Saúde (INS) and Co-Chair of the National Observatory of Health, Dr. Ilesh Jani. Three presentations were made by invited speakers:

1. Global climate change and its impacts on health and the world, by Dr. Helen Gurgel representing the University of Brasilia.

2. History of climate change and natural disasters in Mozambique, by Dr. Casimiro Abreu representing the National Institute of Disaster Management of Mozambique.

3. Impact of climate change on health in Mozambique, by Dr. Eduardo Samo Gudo representing the National Institute of Health.

The inaugural debate was a huge success. Over 120 participants from government, private sector, and civil society attended the event and generated momentum to support broader multi-sectoral efforts to respond to the health threats.