Dr Sambo proposes framework for public health adaptation to climate change

Yamoussoukro, (Cote d'Ivoire), 1 September 2011 -- World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa, Dr Luis Sambo, has proposed a framework for public health adaptation to climate change in the African Region.

The framework, based on five guiding principles, is designed to guide the formulation of country-specific action plans that will form the health component of national change adaptation plans aimed at minimizing the adverse public health effects in Africa.

Dr Sambo's proposal will be discussed on Thursday by the sixty-first session of the WHO Regional Committee for Africa taking place in Yamoussoukro.

The five guiding principles for the framework are: evidence-based planning; country ownership and community participation; intersectoral cooperation and collaboration, and synergies with other public health initiatives and advocacy at national and international levels.

Dr Sambo listed a core group of nine priority interventions to be undertaken by countries. These are:

  • Undertaking baseline risk and capacity assessments to establish the vulnerability of populations to climate-sensitive health risks and the degree to which health systems can provide effective response and manage these risks;
  • Capacity building based on the needs and gaps identified as a result of the assessment undertaken;
  • Implementation of integrated environment and health surveillance to support timely and evidence-based decisions for effective management of environmental risks to human health;
  • Undertaking awareness raising and social mobilization activities;
  • Promoting public health-orientated environmental management to ensure active involvement of public health experts in the development of environmental management interventions to reduce vulnerability;
  • Scaling up existing public health interventions to provide the required coverage for integrated vector management in order to reduce or interrupt the transmission of vector-borne diseases;
  • Strengthening and operationalization of the health components of disaster risk reduction plans to prevent casualties resulting from the health consequences of extreme weather events.
  • Promoting research on climate change impacts and adaptation, and
  • Strengthening the implementation of country level plans with partners such as WHO, UNEP, UNFCCC, the African Union, the African Development Bank, Regional Economic Communities and all other relevant partners.

WHO estimates that climate change is worsening environmental conditions and exacerbating health vulnerabilities that are common in Africa.

According to WHO statistics, global warming caused over 140,000 deaths annually over the period from 1970s to 2004.

A WHO study published in 2009 estimates that the overall mortality attributable to climate change was 0.2% which 85% were child deaths.

For more information, please contact:


Samuel Ajibola ; WHO / AFRO, P.O. Box 06 Brazzaville;
Tel: +47 241 39378 (In Yamoussoukro - mobile 09301551

Collins Boakye-Agyemang, WHO/AFRO, B.P. 06, Brazzaville;
Tel +47 241 39420