Impact of climate change on human health and health systems in Tanzania: a review
Climate change (CC) has a number of immediate and long-term impacts on the fundamental determinants of human health. A number of potential human health effects have been associated either directly or indirectly with global climate change. Vulnerability to the risks associated with CC may exacerbate ongoing socio-economic challenges. The objective of this review was to analyse the potential risk and vulnerability in the context of climate-sensitive human diseases and health system in Tanzania. Climate sensitive vector- and water-borne diseases and other health related problems and the policies on climate adaptation in Tanzania during the past 50 years are reviewed. The review has shown that a number of climate-associated infectious disease epidemics have been reported in various areas of the country; mostly being associated with increase in precipitation and temperature. Although, there is no single policy document that specifically addresses issues of CC in the country, the National Environmental Management Act of 1997 recognizes the importance of CC and calls for the government to put up measures to address the phenomenon. A number of strategies and action plans related to CC are also in place. These include the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, the National Action Programme, and the National Bio-safety Framework. The government has put in place a National Climate Change Steering Committee and the National Climate Change Technical Committee to oversee and guide the implementation of CC activities in the country. Recognizing the adverse impacts of natural disasters and calamities, the government established a Disaster Management Division under the Prime Minister’s Office. Epidemic Preparedness and Response Unit of the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare is responsible for emergency preparedness, mostly disease outbreaks. However, specific climate changes associated with human health issues are poorly addressed in the MoHSW strategies and the national health research priorities. In conclusion, CC threatens to slow, halt or reverses the progress the country has made or is making to achieve its national and millennium development goals. It is therefore important that Tanzania prepares itself to appropriately address CC impact on human health. It is equally important that policy makers and other stakeholders are engaged in a process to update and adapt priorities, mobilize resources and build interdisciplinary research and implementation capacity on climate change and its mitigation.