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‘Climate change to blame for Africa's continual cholera outbreak’- Africa CDC Director

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Kaseya said this on Monday at a Press briefing ahead of the official opening for the 3rd International Conference on Public Health in Africa (CPHIA)  2023 held at Mulungushi International Conference Centre in Lusaka, Zambia. 

DIRECTOR-GENERAL for Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC Africa) Jean Kaseya says 18 African countries are being ravaged by the cholera outbreak, a problem he has attributed to the effects of climate change which according to the African Development Bank is chewing away 5-15% of the continent’s gross domestic product every year. 

Kaseya said this on Monday at a Press briefing ahead of the official opening for the 3rd International Conference on Public Health in Africa (CPHIA)  2023 held at Mulungushi International Conference Centre in Lusaka, Zambia. 

The conference is running under the theme ‘Breaking Barriers: Repositioning Africa in the Global Health Architecture’, and is being attended by Health ministers from different African nations, civic society organisations, United Nations health agencies, delegates  from different health institutions around the world, scientists, researchers and doctors. 

" On climate change, do you know there is a study by African Development Bank (AFDB ) that says every year Africa is losing 5-15% gross domestic product (GDP) due to impacts of  climate change," Kaseya said. 

Kaseya says cholera continues to be a public health threat due to the effects of climate change. 

“As I speak, we have 18 countries affected by cholera with more than 4,000 deaths. We have multiple West African countries affected by dengue (fever). The flooding in a number of countries including Libya, the earthquake in Morocco and a number of other natural disasters are showing the linkage of climate change and health in Africa," he said. 

"It means climate change is affecting us and this is why CDC decided to implement what we call a one-health approach to address the issue of climate change."

"As Africa CDC, we are committed to supporting African countries to adopt a comprehensive one-health approach to tackle these climate-related challenges." 

Zimbabwe is among the 18 nations that are battling the scourge of cholera, a water-borne disease that has killed so many people since its outbreak in February 2023. 

According to Zimbabwe’s Health ministry "as of November 20, 2023 a total of 8 230 suspected cholera cases have been reported" 

Zimbabwe has also been hard hit by a water crisis in some of the cities, thereby worsening the cholera outbreak. 

Addressing the media at the same event, Institute of Health Research and Co-Chair of CPHIA director Margaret Gyapong called for all hands on deck to make sure the African continent mitigates the effects of climate change. 

"Climate change, natural disasters are things that we can do nothing about, they happen but talking from the perspective of a researcher, looking at what we are doing now on the African continent, we are all putting all hands on the plough to make sure that things that need to be done are done and they are done right," Gyapong said. 

Officially opening the event, Zambia President Hakainde Hichilema said Africa must catch up with the rest of the world in vaccine production.

" We have to work hard and value the culture of work as Africans. The younger generation must be willing to do what it takes, what is necessary. We are Africans, we must look inside ourselves and say we are not second to none. In vaccine manufacturing facilities, we must utilize resources optimally. Resources are scarce. We must find efficiencies. We would want Zambia to be considered the manufacturer of the cholera vaccine," Hichilema said. 

He also emphasized the importance of leadership in making right decisions to support health. 

Hichilema called for increased partnership and investment among leaders to improve health access and delivery. 

" Leadership is very important. When we work together , have things in coordination, we will achieve a lot. Public health and all aspects of health require us to work in unity. The thing about health is that there is no territorial ground where one can say this is my territory and I can do things the way I want because COVID-19 taught us that," he said. 

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