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Climate Change, Possible Health Hazard 

By Willibroad B. Nformi
 

CameroonPostline.com — Current world trends that are causing rapid variations in climatic conditions have been identified as a potential health hazard especially in developing nations and other vulnerable societies. This was the focus of an academic discourse presented by Dr. Henry Ndasi, at the Banso Baptist Hospital Chapel, Kumbo, Saturday, October 27.

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The occasion was the matriculation ceremony of newly recruited trainees of the CBC Private Training School for Health Personnel, PTSHP. Ndasi in his discourse titled: “Climate Change: Causes, Challenges and Impact to the Health Care System”, said humans are directly responsible for the earth’s climate that is changing rapidly. "Scientific evidence shows that carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere has increased substantially since industrialisation," Ndasi said.
 

He disclosed that carbon dioxide concentrations have increased by approximately 30 percent since pre-industrial times. He said human activities such as clearing down forest for various reasons takes away the trees that suck away the carbon dioxide from the air. Ndasi said climate change results either into serious drought due to the absence of rainfall or floods due to heavy rains. He said both extremes will have serious health impacts on human beings.
 

Ndasi cited water-borne diseases such as gastro-intestinal, diarrhoea and vomiting, water stress as a result of increased volumes, the increase of dengue, ticks and mosquitoes leading to malaria, food poisoning as a consequence of high temperatures, changes in dieting and respiratory effects such as asthma due to air quality. He said many of the killer diseases are highly climatic-sensitive and will undoubted worsen as the climate continues to change.
 

Answering the question as to who is at risk, Ndasi said all the populations will be affected by the climate change phenomenon but stressed that developing states, inhabitants of polar and mountainous regions as well children in poor countries are most vulnerable. He included elderly people and persons with infirmities or pre-existing medical conditions and persons in areas with weak health infrastructure. As a way forward, Dr. Ndasi said many policies and individual choices must be geared at reducing greenhouse gas emissions with major health co-benefits.
 

This will include promoting the safe use of public transportation and active movement such as cycling or walking as alternatives to the use of private cars thereby, reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Ndasi revealed that in 2009, the World Health Assembly endorsed a new WHO work plan on climate change and health which included advocacy, partnership, science and evidence and health system strengthening.
 

Concluding his discourse, Ndasi had this to say: "By understanding how we fit into the overall climate change equation, we can opt to make changes. This will involve individual and collect efforts as well as responsibilities. Our health system must also brace itself to manage the new health challenges that will result in terms of infrastructure, capacity building of health personnel as well as research in areas of disease control, pest and drought resistant crops".
 

Meanwhile, in an earlier devotion during the matriculation ceremony of 128 trainees, Pastor David Ndzi called on them to be human focused so as to have their rewards from God at the end of times. In his presentation of the institution, the Principal, Jacob Nkwan Gobte, said CBC PTSHP was created in 1955 as a Grade I midwifery school.
 

He said since then the institution has grown in size and quality and has produced hundreds of health personnel for the CBC Health Board and the public as a whole. Nkwan said the school has been organised into nine departments and 28 programmes with over 20 already operational. He said the expansion has inevitably brought about some challenges such as staffing and infrastructural problems.
 

First published in The Post print edition no 01387

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