Africa

African island raise alarms: climate change puts populations at risk

Residents of African islands are extremely affected by climate change: they not only suffer from more famines, but also the number of diseases spread by mosquitoes is increasing. The governments of the island states call for urgent extra help.

At least 23 percent of all deaths in Africa are linked to the environment, the World Health Organization (WHO) reports. That is the highest figure in the world and is expected to rise. After all, global warming will disrupt food and water supplies and the weather, says Magaran Bagayoko, director of infectious diseases in Africa. The island states are already being hit particularly hard by climate change, he said today during a conference in Gabon where leaders from all over Africa want to develop protection measures for their population and the environment.

Mosquitoes
“There is a direct link between the impact of climate change and the cost of health care,” said Jean Paul Adam, Seychelles Health Minister. For example, these islands in the Indian Ocean are experiencing more and more cases of dengue fever. In the past, dengue only appeared during the rainy months, which lasted several months. But now the rain is unpredictable and can start raining at any time of the year. Consequently, dengue fever, which is spread by mosquitoes, is a persistent problem that requires a constant state of readiness.

It is expected that diseases that are spread by mosquitoes, such as dengue and zika, will occur more and more often, as mosquitoes thrive very well in a warm climate.

Weather changes
However, mosquitoes are not the only problem. Climate change also brings floods and storms, which can lead to diseases that are spread through the water, such as cholera, and food problems due to the drought and shrinking food supplies.

Cape Verde, an archipelago off the west coast of Africa, has been struggling for some years with an extreme drought and is making strenuous efforts to avoid a famine, says Health Minister Arlindo Rosario. The inhabitants have to import more food, which in turn leads to a whole series of health problems such as diabetes and heart disease.

“Climate change affects small countries in a variety of ways,” says Rosario, who advocates an international health care fund in regions that are so badly affected by climate change.

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