New World Bank report calls for strengthening resilience of Ghana’s health system in response to climate change

By World Bank

New World Bank report calls for strengthening resilience of Ghana’s health system in response to climate change

A new World Bank report released, calls for urgent action to strengthen the resilience of Ghana’s health system against the adverse effects of climate change. The report, titled Climate and Health Vulnerability Assessment (CHVA) for Ghana, identifies gaps and risks to the country’s health sector while recommending policy actions and providing valuable insights into the capacity to adapt to climate-related shocks.

According to the report, climate change in Ghana is causing extreme weather events like floods and droughts, leading to food insecurity, injuries, and the risk of death for 2 million people. The report notes that Ghana is highly vulnerable, especially to illnesses like malaria and diarrhea disease. It also points out that health issues related to heat, air pollution, and infectious diseases are on the rise with the elderly, youth, and children being particularly vulnerable.

“The World Bank has changed its mission to Ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity on a livable planet. A healthy population is the cornerstone of prosperity. Therefore, implementing adaptation and mitigation measures is crucial not only to address current challenges but also to prevent further adversities,” said Robert Taliercio World Bank Country Director for Ghana, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. “The Government of Ghana is ahead of the curve in thinking about the potential impacts of climate change on health and we encourage further work across sectors on this important challenge.”

The CHVA for Ghana underscores that Ghana’s climate varies in temperature and rainfall, with projections showing decreased rainfall and higher temperatures. Over the past 50 years, the country has experienced 22 major climate events, affecting millions with droughts, floods, wildfires, and storms. The CHVA examines the potential impact on the health of increased heat, as well as expanded infectious diseases.

“The CHVA and research on climate change and health also contribute to the development of climate-resilient health systems. By analyzing vulnerabilities and adaptive capacities, decision-makers can identify areas for improvement and allocate resources effectively,” said Professor Mawuli Dzodzomenyo, lead author of the report and Head of Department, Biological, Environmental and Occupational Health, University of Ghana School of Public Health.

The report makes several policy recommendations over the short- to medium term-to address adaptive capacity gaps in Ghana, including:

  • Implementing a 10-year plan to make Ghana’s health sector resilient to climate change and integrating its objectives and activities into other relevant sectors.
  • Planning for the health workforce to meet needs across urban and rural areas in climate data collection for adaptation.
  • Enhancing the coverage of climate-sensitive conditions in health information systems and periodically conducting national and sub-national climate and health vulnerability assessments, expanding coverage of climate-sensitive health conditions in routine systems, and timely promoting of research, analyses, and surveillance data.
  • Upgrading health facilities with climate-smart codes and ensuring consistent availability of drugs and equipment for climate-sensitive infectious diseases.
  • Undertaking multi-sectoral actions to improve determinants of health and continue implementing and improving programs to control and build an effective emergency communication system.
  • Providing sustained and holistic health and climate change financing and monitoring climate-related health expenditures in line with policy commitments.