New analysis has found that the number of reported disease outbreaks and climate-related health emergencies in the greater Horn Africa have reached their highest-ever level this century. Most parts of the region are battling the worst drought in at least 40 years. Climate change is having an impact here and now on the health of Africans in the greater Horn of Africa.

BRAZZAVILLE NOVEMBER 4: New analysis by World Health Organization (WHO) has found that the number of reported disease outbreaks and climate-related health emergencies in the greater Horn Africa have reached their highest-ever level this century, deepening a health crisis in a region where 47 million people are already facing acute hunger.

Most parts of the region are battling the worst drought in at least 40 years, with an unprecedented fifth rainy season failure now anticipated, while other parts face flooding and conflict.

– “Climate change is having an impact here and now on the health of Africans in the greater Horn of Africa. The failure of four consecutive rainy seasons has scorched the earth and pushed people out of their homes in search of food and water,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.

– “It is critical that world leaders reach agreement on stemming the rise in temperatures at the 27th United Nations Climate Change conference (COP27) which is very appropriately taking place in Africa. As a continent we are the least responsible for global warming, but among the first to experience its tragic impact.”

Analysis of the seven countries in the greater Horn of Africa – Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda – recorded 39 reported outbreaks, flooding and other acute public health events between 1 January and 30 October 2022.

This is already the highest annual reported number since 2000, with two months left in the year. Outbreaks of anthrax, measles, cholera, yellow fever, chikungunya, meningitis, and other infectious diseases account for more than 80% of the acute public health events reported, with drought, flooding and other disasters accounting for 18%.

– “In the past four years, the number of people facing acute hunger in the greater Horn of Africa have more than doubled. We must put a stop to this exponential rise in misery. Between malnutrition and death there is often disease. The dire conditions in the greater Horn of Africa are a perfect storm for outbreaks, which unless we act quickly will flare up with increasing intensity,” added Dr Moeti.

– “To mount an effective emergency response to the crisis on our doorstep, we need US$124 million, but have only received 34% of our request up to now.”

Drought is not the only extreme weather event the region is fighting. South Sudan is experiencing its fourth consecutive year of flooding with 40% of the country under water. Heavy rains and flash floods continue to affect tens of thousands of people across neighbouring Sudan.

The floods have destroyed or damaged thousands of houses and tens of health facilities, water sources, and latrines in 15 states. Additionally, livestock and a wide area of agricultural land have been affected by floods, which contribute to food insecurity.

In response to the deepening health crisis, WHO is focused on ensuring that vulnerable populations, especially children have access to essential health services, protecting populations from diseases through immunization campaigns, detecting and responding to outbreaks and providing treatment for severe acute malnutrition, among other actions.

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