FEDERAL MINISTRY OF HEALTH, NIGERIA: CLIMATE CHANGE & HEALTH PROFILE

NATIONAL CIRCUMSTANCES

nigeria-political-map

Nigeria a country in West Africa is a Federal republic comprising 36 states and a Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The States are further situated in six geo-political zones and divided into 774 Local Government Areas. The population is an estimated 170 million people.

Nigeria made progress in the achievement of the health related MDGs. Nonetheless, indicators show the need for more concerted efforts. Life expectancy at birth is 54 years. Health indicators show use of insecticide treated bed-nets increased to 50% in 2013. Malaria a climate sensitive disease still contributes 30% to childhood mortality. 61% of households in Nigeria have access to improved source of drinking water, 30% of households have improved toilet facility, 64% continueto use wood as the main source of cooking fuel in Nigeria, 50% per cent have at least one insecticide-treated mosquito net (ITN). Diarrheal diseases are among the leading causes of death. Malnutrition is very common. Other health challenges include emerging and re-emerging communicable diseases, increasing prevalence of non-communicable diseases, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, HIV/AIDS epidemic, high maternal and infant mortality rates.

Nigeria has a developing economy. Its strength is derived from its oil and gas reserves, which make up 90% of export revenues. Poverty level is high. Level of youth unemployment is high, unfavourable per capita income and income distribution reflects the social inequities. High social deprivation identified in the Federal Republic of Nigeria Country Strategy Paper, 2013-2017 is said to reflect directly in the increasing number and severity of health issues, particularly those associated with climate change.

Air, rail, pipelines, road and water transportation facilities are available in the country but the most important is the road, many of which are in various states of disrepair or incapable of effectively handling the ever increasing traffic volume. All of these directly affect the current and potential resilience capabilities of Nigerian communities when combined with environmental and other social stressors.

ISSUES ON CLIMATE CHANGE IN NIGERIA

Climate change affects all sectors in Nigeria. The country is warm and has high and shifting rainfall variability and drought. There could be rise in temperature of up to 3.2°C by 2050 under a high climate change scenario. Nigeria’s coastal and marine environment stretches for about 853 km. It habours about 25% of the country’s population and a wide variety of economic activities, opportunities and resources. It is projected that sea level rise from the 1990 levels can get up to 0.3M by 2020 and 1M by 2050.

Nigeria is endowed with energy resources. Gas flaring and inefficient energy use play significant roles in Nigeria’s Green House Gas emissions. Private production of electricity with diesel- and petrol operated generators is significant but comes at a higher cost per unit. Limited access to reasonably priced electricity is a factor indicating low standard of living in the country.

Fuel wood is the main source of domestic energy in the country and is increasing despite the fact that wood extraction has known damaging effect. Nigeria has the highest rate of deforestation in Africa which is increasing due to factors like settlement, expansion and logging. There is erosion in some parts of the country.

Environmental pollution is also a challenge and is linked to a reasonable extent to poor waste management particularly in the urban areas. All of these have serious implications, accentuate the impacts of climate change and therefore call for urgent and targeted actions to minimize their impacts.
With urban migration and its population, Nigeria is particularly vulnerable to the health effects of climate change. The country is also heavily dependent on agriculture a climate-sensitive sector which affects human health. The country has considerable challenges with its land resources including loss of prime arable lands, opening up of the remaining new land, vegetation degradation and increasing desertification.

Direct health impacts of climate change in Nigeria stem from extreme events such as heat waves, floods mostly from heavy rainfall, erosion, droughts and windstorms. Indirect effects of climate change on health may arise from malnutrition due to reduced food production, spread of infectious diseases, vector/ food / and water borne diseases and from increased air pollution. Climate change exacerbates human health effects of these stressors.

The July 2012 Nigeria floods with its devastation proofed that the impact of climate change has set in in the country. 23 States in the federation were affected. 363 people died, 18,282 people were injured, 2,100,000 people were displaced and 7.7 million people affected in other ways. Some communities were even submerged under the flood water. There was also poor sanitation causing outbreaks of diarrheal diseases. In all of these, women, children and elderly were found most vulnerable. There was also an epidemic of Ebola in 2014.

Government’s awareness of the high vulnerability to climate change is evidenced by efforts made to put institutional arrangements in place and some policies in the national development agenda. These include the preparation of the Nigeria Climate Change Policy and Response Strategy (approved by the Federal Executive Council on September 13, 2012) and the National Adaptation Strategy and Plan of Action for Climate Change in Nigeria (NASPA-CCN).

In order to contribute towards Nigeria’s development objectives and address vulnerability, including the targets set out in Nigeria’s Vision 20:2020, climate change strategies and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the health sector began making plans in 2010 to develop climate change adaptation strategies and plans. A climate change unit effectively took off in 2013. However, there is limited organizational, technical and financial capacity in the health sector to respond to climate change. The development and implementation of climate change impacts on public health in Nigeria are yet to be fully realized and linkages between various sectors of the economy are weak. All of these make the health sector highly vulnerable to the impact of Climate Change.

Nigeria has been active on many fronts in climate change response since the inception of the Rio Conventions of 1992.

The impacts of climate change and increasing green-house gas emission on human health include:
• Heat
• increased rainfall
• Air pollution
• Sea level rise
• Malnutrition
• Windstorms
• Drought
• Desertification

Health effects of each impact are
a. Heat is expected to result in:
1. Heat directly causes heat stress, heat stroke and dehydration especially for children and elderly.
2. Air pollution
3. Injuries and fatalities
4. Worsening sanitation conditions.
5. Pressure on the health system.
6. Wildfires
7. Exacerbates cardiovascular diseases.
8. Induces mental stress.
9. Other heat-related illnesses.

b. Increased Rainfall will result in
Flooding
Displacement of populations and households.
Increase in vector and water-borne diseases such as malaria and cholera respectively.
Crop failure.

c.Air pollution causes
 Asthma
 Stroke
 Heart diseases
 Pneumonias
 Non-communicable diseases (NCDs)
 Cancers and
 Increased Maternal and Child Health thus leading to increased mortality and morbidity

d. Sea Level Rise will cause
• Displacement of populations
• Flooding including farmlands.
• Damage to buildings including health facilities.
• Damage to roads and other infrastructure;
• Damage to electricity transmission and communications infrastructure
• Contamination of water with salt, sewage, industrial and domestic wastes.

e. Extreme Weather Events result in
1. Increase damage to buildings and other infrastructure for health care delivery and for general economic well- being.
2. Deaths, injuries, massive casualties and disasters.
3. Economic disruptions causing a cascade of insecurities in income, food, housing, family instability and induce mental health problems.
4. Changes in vector ecology.
5. Air pollution.

f. Drought causes
• Decreased availability of quality water for domestic use.
• Increases physiologic stress
• Displacement of populations.
• Decreases crop yield/ production of food leading to food shortage, inflation and malnutrition
• Changes in aquatic environment that decreases sea food production and favours toxins that accumulate in seafood. It also facilitates fresh and salt water algal blooms.

g. Desertification causes
 Erosion
 Habitat degradation

Health Measures Initiated
o Development of policy documents and guidelines including Situation Analysis and Needs Assessment (SANA) and Health National Adaptation Plan (HNAP) documents on going and aligned to National Action Plans (NAP).
o National Council on Health approved decentralization of implementation of planned adaptation actions and strategies. For this, there was establishment of climate change desk offices/units in the 36 state ministries of health including the Federal capital territory.
o Have plans for awareness creation on impact of climate change on public health, public education and preventive options.
o Strengthening resilience of health systems and preparing for emergencies and disasters.
o Strengthening of linkages with other stakeholders such as Ministries of Environment, the Nigerian Metrological Agency, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Water Resources etcfor climatic information,provision of water, promote proper nutrition, safe sanitation, immunization and elimination of poverty etc.
o Signed MOU with the consortium consisting of ALWAYS GREEN POWER & SYSTEMS LTD & ENVIRONMENT COMMUNICATIONS LTD a.k.a Africa Clean Energy Summit (ACES) for Public Private Partnership to reach out to the states and communities with IEC material on climate change, renewable energy and proactive adaptation & mitigation actions.
o Strengthening of the surveillance system for early warning on communicable and non-communicable diseases.

Other anticipated adaptation actions
• Training of a critical mass of master trainers on public health issues related to climate change.
• Capacity building of public health care workers (including risk communication) on public health issues related to climate change.
• Conducting vulnerability and risk assessments.
• Plans are on-going to mainstream health impacts of climate change in the national health policy.
• Risk reduction, epidemic management.
• Build plausible climate scenarios based on climate models.
• Address data and research gaps.
• Adapting architectural designs to suit new weather regimes
• Increase access to high quality health services
• Promoting appropriate climate-health education in schools.
• Expand community health services delivery.
• Expand scope of waste management
• Promote climate-health cooperation programme (training first responders in communities).
• Establish more health and climate collaboration and synthesis programmes

Co-benefits for health of climate change mitigation measures

Climate-related actions taken by other sectors such as the transport and promotion of renewable energy have potential benefit for human health. The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) under KP to which Nigeria is a signatory has provided ample opportunities for emission reduction from the energy sector in the country. One of the projects is the conversion of natural gas that was once flared in the process of petroleum exploitation into cooking gas. The various CDM projects have recorded United Nation Certified Emission Reductions (CERs).

References

1. National Health Policy, Nigeria, 2010.
2. Demographic Health Survey, Nigeria 2013.
3. National Adaptation Strategy and Plan of Action for Climate Change in Nigeria (NASPA-CCN), 2012.
4. Second National Communication of Nigeria under the United Nations Framework
Convention on Climate Change.2014
5. Seasonal Rainfall Predictions, NiMET, Nigeria.2015
6. Nigeria’s Vision 20:2020.

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