In a speech delivered at the 2nd African and IST South-South Health Harm Reduction Conference, Dr. Nicaise Ndembi, Chief Science Advisor, shed light on the profound impact of climate change on health and the environment. He emphasized the intricate relationship between air quality, global warming, and the evolving nature of pathogens.
Dr. Ndembi highlighted that climate change is disrupting the biological characteristics of pathogens, including their growth patterns, survival rates, and virulence. This, in turn, has led to a concerning rise in infectious diseases, ranging from vector-borne illnesses to enteric infections and diarrheal diseases, as well as parasitic infections like schistosomiasis.
One of the most alarming consequences of climate change, as explained by Dr. Ndembi, is its role in driving certain animal species into new habitats. This ecological shift has increased the chances of human-animal interactions, potentially facilitating the transmission of zoonotic diseases from animals to humans.
Dr. Ndembi also emphasized the significance of the “One Health” approach, which advocates for collaborative, multisectoral, and transdisciplinary efforts to achieve optimal health outcomes for humans, animals, plants, and their interconnected environments.
This insightful discourse underscores the urgent need for global action to address the far-reaching consequences of climate change on public health and the delicate balance of our ecosystems.