First Assessment Report, - Working Group II Health and Settlement

Ethiopian Panel on Climate Change
Ethiopian Academy of Sciences
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There is a strong and growing, global, scientific consensus that warming of the climate system is a fact and is affecting human health. The Health sector is affected by weather variability and climate change. This includes morbidity and mortality due to climate sensitive diseases, health infrastructure damage and shift of resources to respond to health crisis related to weather variability and climate change.

The most common climate change related effects on health in Ethiopia are morbidity and mortality due to vector-borne infectious diseases. However, new conditions may emerge under climate change [low confidence], and existing diseases (e.g. food-borne infections) may extend their range into areas that are presently unaffected. But the largest risks will apply to populations that are currently most affected by climate-related diseases.

It is a well established fact that climate change has great impact on the health of the nation in three different ways, which include:

• Direct impacts, which relate primarily to changes in the frequency of extreme weather including heat, drought, and heavy rain
• Effects mediated through natural systems, for example, etiologic agents, animal reservoirs of disease vectors, water-borne diseases, and air pollution
• Effects heavily mediated by human systems, for example, occupational impacts, under nutrition, and mental stress.

If climate change continues as projected until mid-century, the major increases of ill-health compared to no climate change will occur through:

• Greater risk of injury, disease, and death due to more intense heat waves and fires,
• Increased risk of under-nutrition resulting from diminished food production in poor regions,
• Consequences for health of lost work capacity and reduced labor productivity in vulnerable populations,
• Increased risks of food- and water-borne diseases and vector-borne diseases,
• Modest improvements in cold-related mortality and morbidity in some areas due to fewer cold extremes geographical shifts in food production, and reduced capacity of disease-carrying vectors due to exceedence of thermal thresholds.

These positive effects will be out-weighed by the magnitude and severity of the negative effects of climate change. Strategies to respond to climate change through adaptation, mitigation, finance, technology, and capacity-building, should be devised and properly take into account the impact of climate change on health. The most effective adaptation measures for health in the near-term are programs that implement basic public health measures such as provision of clean water and sanitation, secure essential health care including vaccination and child health services, increase capacity for disaster preparedness and response, and alleviate poverty.

Ethiopian Panel on Climate Change