NCAP Ghana: Health Sector Assessment

Submitted by Ben Smith | published 9th Dec 2011 | last updated 5th Nov 2013

Climate change, in the form of thermal stress, can directly affect cardiovascular and respiratory morbidity and mortality. Indirectly, climate variability can influence food production, malnutrition, and disease agents for vector-, water-, food-, and air-borne categories. Moreover, changes in climate can impair the efficient functioning of many ecosystems in Ghana, which in turn can have adverse effects on human health. The effects of climate change on public health in Ghana are of major concern.

The key finding of the study is that the impact of the disease burden from projected changes in the Ghanaian climate is likely to be considerable. The number of months with climatic conditions suitable for high incidence of meningitis cases will increase. Diarrheal diseases are also likely increase due to reduced rainfall and increased mean air temperatures. Less rain and hotter temperatures also increase the risk of Guinea worm infestation nationally.

Regarding the relationship between health, food security and climate change, the study found that malnutrition is likely to increase due to the increased frequency of extreme weather events. Such events will reduce farmland productivity in rural areas of Ghana. Food scarcity and the corresponding increase in the cost of local foods will also likely lead to increased infections. On the positive side, there are a few indicators that suggest that with hotter and drier conditions, there could be a decrease in the incidence of malaria and measles infection rates. This is mostly due, however, to effective case management and preventative measures that are already in place.The table below summarizes the major public health concerns in Ghana, and how they are likely to be affected by climate change.

 

Public Health Impacts with Climate Change

Public Health Impacts with Climate Change

The adaptation portion of the assessment concluded that several adaptation options will be instrumental in helping Ghanaian communities to adapt to the public health impacts associated with climatic change:

 

  • Form community health groups: Groups would improve education that would lead to behavioral change as well as build awareness among communities of actions they could take to ameliorate risk factors in their daily living conditions. In addition, such groups could be used to promote and enforce exclusive breastfeeding for children for their first six months, and disseminate information on improved weaning practices.
  • Conduct vaccination campaigns: The key focus of these campaigns would be on measles and meningitis as an epidemic management strategy whose objectives dovetail nicely with the role of community health groups. Health workers and health groups would also play a vital role in monitoring and communicating disease risk and strengthening nutrition and food security, both of which would build resilience and facilitate adaptation to climate change.
  • Implement vector control: Improved vector control was also identified as a means to breaking the transmission cycle as infection becomes more prevalent and probable. Intervention initiatives include early detection, rapid treatment, and using multiple means for disease prevention.

 

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    Related Pages

    Back to: Key findings from NCAP Ghana project.