Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Botswana Health sector vulnerable to climate change

As a result of the global climate change, the Botswana Health sector has been identified as being highly vulnerable. This was revealed in a report compiled by a Consultancy for the Department of Meteorological Services for submission to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which indicates that, “Climate change will affect the Health sector through extreme events associated with temperatures and rainfall. Consequently, there is a strong correlation between health aspects and extreme climatic variables. Health aspects that have been identified in the SNC report include; increase in incidences of vector diseases; mainly, Malaria, Bilharzia and others.”

According to the report, there is a likelihood of increase in geographical belt of the vector disease, such as Malaria.  Moreover, extreme events, mainly floods, could also result in increased outbreaks of water borne diseases, mainly diarrhoeal illnesses. 

The health sector is also linked to climate change through food security. Thus, with increase in extreme events such as drought, food security and nutrition will be adversely challenged by climate change and variability. 

“It is therefore apt that adaptation strategies are put in place to minimise the probable impacts of climate change and variability to the health sector. The following are some of the adaptation measures that the Government of Botswana is currently undertaking to maintain a healthy nation. Thus, these initiatives will be intensified in order to minimise the impacts of climate change.”

The Botswana government has adopted Vector borne Programmes such as Control of Diarrhoeal Diseases Programme (CDDP) as well as Integrated Management of Childhood Infection. The Vector borne program entails, “Intensification of Vector Control Interventions, mainly Insecticide Treated Bed Nets (ITN) and Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS).”

Currently, these initiatives are conducted in the North West and Chobe Districts. Therefore, with expansion of the geographical coverage of malaria as projected by the modelling exercise, these health programmes will correspondingly be expanded to other parts of the country.  

Other initiatives include Public Education and Malaria campaigns. These campaigns have been on-going but there will be a need to expand the programme to the new areas where the disease has spread. Thus, there is need for preparatory work to ensure that communities where the disease has spread to are well prepared for the outbreak. It is therefore important that these campaigns take into consideration the probable outbreaks associated with other vector diseases including heat waves, strokes etc.  

Apparently there are some measures already in place. The report indicates; “Early warning systems are in place: this will involve observing extreme events associated with ailments such as extreme temperatures and rainfall and communicating the information to the communities well in time.”

Under the control of Diarrhoeal Diseases Programme, adaptation measures would entail various activities such as infrastructural development – mainly water treatment plants and borehole developments; access to safe/potable water and improved sanitation. This will be achieved through technological advancement that deals with clean water technologies and bio-latrines which reduce water contamination. 

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