During this year’s annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene in Chicago (October 18-22), Forecasting Healthy Futures put a spotlight on the intersection of climate and health through a series of affiliated events.
Symposium: Climate Change & Malaria Elimination: Perspectives from the Ground
During the “Climate Change & Malaria Elimination: Perspectives from the Ground” symposium, co-sponsored by the Global Institute for Disease Elimination (GLIDE), Malaria No More and Asia Pacific Leaders Malaria Alliance (APLMA), panelists discussed the impact of climate change on malaria elimination efforts.
Here is some of what we heard:
In his opening remarks, Dr. Daniel Ngamije Madandi, WHO Director of the Global Malaria Program, discussed last summer’s floods in Pakistan and the impact of such extreme weather events on spreading malaria throughout the region. Dr. Madandi said, despite all the uncertainties, “what is certain is that climate change will have indirect effects on malaria” and that “the consequences [of climate change] will be felt by low-income communities who contribute least to the problem.”
Also, regarding Pakistan and malaria being a leading cause of death, Dr. Farah Qamar, Associate Professor and Consultant Pediatric Infectious Disease, emphasized the need for more rapid diagnostic tests for responding to such disasters, particularly as global warming and urbanization contribute to malaria outbreaks – and urged improved supply chain management and investment in local entomologists for researching and sharing solutions.
While discussing Mozambique’s vulnerability to cyclones, including the record-breaking Cyclone Freddy that struck central Mozambique in March, Dr. Baltazar Candrinho, Director of Mozambique’s National Malaria Control Program (NMCP), shared how cyclones have been impacting areas with medium to high malaria transmission rates - and emphasized the need to build climate resilient health systems.
As Founder and Executive Director of Impact Santé Afrique, Olivia Ngou, discussed her organization’s commitment to fighting malaria in Africa, and how changes to the rainy season are “clearly disrupting malaria programming.” She added, “Children under five are paying the highest price of climate change as they aren’t receiving malaria interventions at the right times due to unpredictability of rainy seasons.”
Representing Forecasting Healthy Futures, Managing Director of Strategic Initiatives Kelly Willis discussed early-warning tools and how “the real hurdle is to integrate sophisticated models into health systems” while urging the need to build up capacity to use the information produced from innovative models. “Predicting is not enough,” Willis said, “but knowledge and predictive tools are an important factor in climate resilience.”
Climate Fresk Workshop: Empowerment in Action
In this interactive event, ASTMH attendees were offered a unique opportunity to participate in a Climate Fresk workshop, co-sponsored by Forecasting Healthy Futures, offering a collaborative learning experience focused on understanding the science, causes, and consequences of climate change. Using illustrated cards based on data from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, participants created large climate frescoes – hence the name Climate Fresk – to gain a better understanding of the health impacts of climate change and discuss climate-health solutions.
Communications Course: Effectively Communicating in Global Health
In this pre-meeting course, global health professionals were provided tools they need to improve their engagement with community partners and their communication with media, governments, healthcare professionals, and the public. Participants heard from experts in the field of community and public engagement, including Malaria No More’s Forecasting Healthy Futures.
Ponder to Probe: Climate-Health Networking Session
In this networking session, entitled, “Ponder to Probe”, Forecasting Healthy Futures’ Kelly Willis participated in a dynamic debate, exploring the themes of climate changes & health alongside colleagues at ASTMH.