MAPUTO, Mozambique held its first ever public debate on the impact of climate change on health here Thursday with Health Minister Nazira Abdula saying that climate change is a reality and the country’s geographical position makes it vulnerable to extreme climatic events.

Speaking at the opening of the debate, she added that mitigating the negative impacts of climate change requires concerted efforts from various government sectors, our partners and society at large.

The question of climate change, she said, would be the central theme of the 6th Annual Conference of the Observatory of Human Resources for Health, scheduled for November. Her ministry is working to set up an observation platform on climate, environment and health as part of the National Health Observatory, to support the sector in the generation and use of scientific evidence about climate change.

Nazira stressed that recent heat waves in various parts of Mozambique, the increased frequency and intensity of droughts and floods, the increase in average temperatures, and sea level rise all have potentially devastating impacts on the health of Mozambicans.

The country is still suffering from the 2015-2016 drought which hit southern Mozambique and parts of the central provinces. The drought, she said, not only limits the availability of water, but is seriously compromising several health indicators.

The appearance of species of aedes mosquito in Mozambique and the recent occurrence of diseases that it spreads, such as dengue and chikungunya fevers, represent new threats in our country, driven by climate change, she warned.

The Minister of Land, Environment and Rural Development, Celso Correia, pledged that his ministry would continue to work closely with the health authorities and other government bodies involved in mitigating the impacts of climate change.

He recognized that, in addition to environmental damage, climate change could have a wide range of impacts on human health, ranging from the emergence of chronic illnesses to increased malnutrition.