January was a busy month with climate change and NCDs (non-communicable diseases) training taking place in Nairobi. LLA facilitated this training exploring the nexus between climate change and non-communicable disease for young people drawn from Roysambu Constituency.
Given that climate change and NCDs both have their root causes across multiple sectors, understanding this complexity is greatly warranted. Moreover, with climate change taking a toll on the health outcomes of people across the world, there is a growing body of need to explore the roles people can play in reversing the deleterious effects. Young people, owing to their energy, enthusiasm, altruism and passion for social endeavors, can place a central role in reversing the effects of climate change, thereby reducing the burden of non-communicable diseases. However, for young people to play a meaningful and impactful role, they must be armed with right knowledge and understanding of the link between climate changes and emerging chronic non-communicable diseases. This training was therefore to expand participants understanding and give them a voice to champion for climate change action and prevention of NCDs.
The trainees were also trained on advocacy. Advocacy is a very essential undertaking. Advocacy targeted towards policy makers working at the municipal level, including Members of County Assembly (MCAs) and Governors is therefore invaluable. During the training, we also explored some of the specific connections between NCDs and climate change, as well as highlighting co-benefit solutions in tackling these twin challenges. We highlighted the policy areas of focus which are air pollution, energy, transport, and food systems. There are many other areas, such as housing, workplaces, urban planning, and industry in which synergies exist between climate mitigation and reducing exposure to NCD risk factors, but these four sectors provide key examples for an effective and integrated response.
Some key points
- Climate change will increase levels of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, poor mental health, injuries, and malnutrition.
- Climate change-related health impacts will increase pressure on health and social systems in low-and middle-income countries experiencing rapid growth in their burden of NCDs.
- Well designed climate change mitigation strategies could provide a win-win opportunity. They could lower greenhouse gas emissons and concurrently reduce NCD risk in local population, thus helping countries to improve health, support development, and achieve national emission targets.
- Reduction in urban air pollution and indoor air pollution had great potential cardiovascular and respiratory health benefits in low-income countries.
- A shift towards active transport would result in widespread cardiovascular health gains and reduced risk of cancer, poor mental health, and other chronic conditions in all countries.
- Reduction in both CVD and some cancers would arise from a reduction in the production and consumption of animal source products among high consuming population.
Climate change adaptation strategies, if done well, can help manage existing climate change by creating living conditions that reduce the risk of NCDs and support development.