More than 250 health journals have joined forces to publish an editorial aimed at convincing world leaders to deliver climate justice for Africa.
The editorial, written by 16 editors of Africa’s leading biomedical journals, says the continent has suffered disproportionately, even though it has done little to cause the climate crisis.
Ahead of next month’s UN Climate Change Conference (COP-27) in Egypt, the authors urged wealthy countries to step up support for vulnerable countries to deal with the past, present and future impacts of climate change.
“The climate crisis has impacted environmental and social determinants of health across Africa, resulting in devastating health effects,” the authors wrote in the editorial, published Tuesday evening.
Climate-related risks in Africa include floods, droughts, heat waves, lower food production and lower labor productivity, according to the authors.
As well as being published in 50 journals across Africa – such as African Health Sciences, the African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine and the East African Medical Journal – the editorial also appears in other journals leading international.
Among those publications are The BMJ, The Lancet, New England Journal of Medicine, National Medical Journal of India and Medical Journal of Australia, according to a press release from The Lancet.
In West and Central Africa, floods have led to increased deaths and forced migration due to loss of housing and farmland, the authors pointed out.
Meanwhile, damage to environmental hygiene and changes in vector ecology have led to an upsurge in diseases – such as malaria, dengue fever, Lassa fever, Rift Valley fever, Lyme, Ebola virus and West Nile virus – throughout sub-Saharan Africa, according to the editorial.
The authors estimated that the climate crisis has destroyed around a fifth of the gross domestic product of the countries most vulnerable to the climate shock.
“The damage to Africa should be of paramount concern to all nations,” the authors wrote, acknowledging that this is partly for moral reasons.
“Yet it is not only for moral reasons that all nations should care about Africa,” they continued. “Tackling the climate crisis requires everyone to be on deck.”
The ripple effects can impact all nations, they explained, noting that the coronavirus pandemic should serve “as a call to this global momentum”.
The authors also urged wealthy countries to honor an earlier pledge they had made – but so far failed to deliver – to invest $100 billion a year in the poorest countries. .
This investment, they argued, must take place now if the planet is to “prevent systemic risks from leaving societies in crisis.” Resources should come from grants rather than loans, and prioritize the resilience of the health system, according to the editorial.
“The climate crisis is the product of global inaction and is costing dearly not only to the disproportionately affected African countries, but to the entire world,” the authors wrote.
“Africa stands united with other frontline regions in urging rich countries to finally step up their efforts, if only for the single reason that crises in Africa will sooner or later spread and engulf every corner of the globe, in which case it may be too late to respond effectively,” they warned.
“If so far they have failed to be persuaded by moral arguments, then hopefully their self-interest will now prevail,” the editorial concludes.
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