Global Fund and African Civil Societies Reaffirm Commitment to Support Community-led Response to Climate Change

10 May 2024

ARUSHA – The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (the Global Fund), African civil societies and communities disproportionately affected by infectious diseases came together yesterday at the 18th International Conference on Community-Based Adaptation to Climate Change (CBA18) in Arusha, Tanzania, to reaffirm their strong commitment to increase collaboration for building and strengthening climate-resilient health systems in the face of climate change.

The CBA18 is a forum where participants share lessons learned and best practices on community-based and locally led adaptation approaches to climate change. Together, they explore avenues to put the principles for locally led adaptation into practice for a climate-resilient future.

Climate change is intensifying extreme weather events, forced displacement, decreased air quality and increased food, water and economic insecurity – all of which have a negative impact on health. A month before the CBA18, a new drought has left millions facing hunger in southern Africa, while Kenya and Tanzania have been hit by floods over the last month – both impacts of the El Niño phenomenon.

Climate change poses the greatest threat to the Global Fund’s mission to end HIV, TB and malaria and build resilient and sustainable systems for health. At COP28, the Global Fund announced that more than 70% of its funding – over US$9 billion over the next three years – will be spent in the 50 most climate-vulnerable countries to support health programs that must also cope with the climate crisis. 

At the CBA18, the Global Fund and its partners – ALMA, EANNASO, HEPS Uganda, ITPC, Lensational, RAME and Speak Up Africa – hosted two sessions: “Resilient Communities, Healthy Futures” and “Community Engagement and Advocacy in Climate-Health Decision-Making Spaces.” Underscoring the nexus between climate change and health, the participants discussed climate health tools, interventions and approaches to enhance community health resilience.

“The climate conversation is a health conversation, as climatic risks such as floods affect health systems for the most vulnerable populations, especially in Africa,” said Prince Ansah, Program Manager, Ghana CDKN. “In many instances, limited hospital infrastructure, road networks, essential medical supplies and human resources have been destroyed by floods, impacting thousands of people. If saving human lives is at the center of the climate change debate, then health care needs to be part of that integral conversation.”

While highlighting the progress that is being made against malaria in countries through community-led efforts, participants also expressed their concern that climate change poses a specific and urgent threat to malaria control and elimination efforts. Changes in rainfall, temperature and humidity are expanding the disease transmission to areas that are unprepared and inadequately resourced to prevent, detect and treat malaria, such as the highlands of Kenya and Ethiopia.

“The African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) is working to keep the issues of climate change and health, including malaria and neglected tropical diseases, high on the agenda of the heads of states and governments of Africa,” said Aloyce Urassa, Public Health Scientist and Chairperson of the ALMA Youth Advisory Council. “We are working to provide support for countries to integrate climate change and health indicators into the scorecard tools of accountability, advocacy and action.”

Participants also discussed climate inequities, underlining the gender and age dynamics at play.

“Climate inequities disproportionately affect low-income and marginalized communities, worsening the existing inequalities in political power, policy, practice and funding that also contribute to health disparities,” said Simon Kaboré, Regional Executive Director of Réseau d’Accès aux Médicaments Essentiels (RAME). “The ability of people and communities to access health services is being impacted by a wide range of climate-related and societal factors, including those related to gender and age. This is why support for the adaptation of community-led solutions to climate change must focus on raising their awareness in order for them to find tailored and context-specific solutions.”

“Women are more vulnerable to undernutrition and have less access than men to medical services; climate change can exacerbate this situation,” said Maelle Ba, Senior Communications Manager at Speak Up Africa and Co-Chair of the RBM Partnership to End Malaria Strategic Communications Partner Committee. “This conference is a unique opportunity for Speak Up Africa and our Voix EssentiELLES initiative to learn more about community-led, gender-sensitive solutions implemented by our climate counterparts and explore avenues to co-create climate health resilient gender considerations in Africa.”

To conclude, participants called to break down the silos between climate and health risks to ensure effective decision-making. They also suggested to leverage community voices to highlight and explain the way health and climate are interconnected, and urged the implementation of strategies that address both climate resilience and health equity.

“As the impacts of climate change cause ripples throughout communities worldwide, scaled-up efforts that support those most impacted by the climate crisis are urgently needed,” said Seonmi Choi, Senior Advisor for Climate Change and Environment at the Global Fund. “This conference has provided a platform, even within the Global Fund partnership, to hold crucial conversations on how to best integrate climate resilience into community systems. Our partners are coming up with powerful and impactful solutions and enabling us to increase our knowledge.”

This need for stronger cross-sectoral integration was further affirmed by various delegates and CBA18 conference organizers.

“We are pleased that, in collaboration with the Global Fund, we brought together health actors in the climate space for the first time at CBA18,” said Tom Mitchell, Executive Director of IIED. “This served as a wonderful platform to strengthen collaboration amongst them. The health of people and the planet are interlinked – we cannot achieve climate resilience without also safeguarding health. That’s why we need to deal with these challenges in a holistic way. We look forward to collaborating further with the Global Fund partnership.”

The Global Fund’s Strategy for 2023-2028 [ download in عربي | 中文 | Deutsch | English | Español | Français | Italiano | 日本語 | Português | Русский ] places people and communities front and center of the fight against HIV, TB and malaria, while accelerating the shift to more integrated, people-centered models of prevention, treatment and care. It also clearly addresses the threat and impact of climate change and provides an opportunity for the Global Fund to look at innovative ways to address, mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change. 


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