Governments are urged to integrate mental health into all climate change intervention programs.
In a radio interview, climate-related stress psychologist Dr Pamela Keisl said that in addition to commodities, people who have survived climate change loss and damage in most parts of northern Kenya also need psychosocial support. said there is.
“Designing intervention programs that eliminate the mainstreaming of psychosocial and mental health will lead to more people suffering from loss-related stress and depression due to the severe impacts of climate change, such as the droughts that are being witnessed in parts of the country. It’s doing a disservice to our communities,” she said.
Extreme weather events such as floods and droughts are becoming more frequent, more intense and more severe.
Societies must look for ways to protect vulnerable populations, such as those in humanitarian situations, said Dr. Kaisul. . Decades ago, when they were coming once in a generation.
According to climate change experts at the IGAD Climate Prediction and Application Center (ICPAC), extreme weather conditions pose a serious threat to human life and can even be fatal in certain circumstances. Intergovernmental Development Agency (IGAD) in East Africa, including Kenya.
Agriculture, water, health, energy, infrastructure and transport are just a few of the many climate-sensitive sectors that have been adversely affected by recurrent shocks that have recently increased in frequency and intensity.
Dr. Kaisl, who also serves as an expert consultant for the African Communities Coalition for Climate Change Response (ACCRCC), sees pastoralists losing all their livestock and small farmers failing to harvest after making large investments in their farms. He said the resulting stress was enormous.
“Unfortunately, this is an area that has been neglected and has not yet received the attention it needs,” she said.
Governments and non-governmental organizations often plan for groceries and non-food items, with little thought of integrating mental health into their intervention programs.
According to Dr Kaithuru, climate change will lead to death and disease through increasingly frequent extreme weather events such as heatwaves, storms and floods, disruption of food systems, zoonotic diseases and food shortages. And so on, already impacting our health in countless ways. -, water- and vector-borne diseases, and mental health issues.
Additionally, climate change is undermining many of the social determinants of health, including livelihoods, equity, and access to health care and social support structures, she said.
Worse, Dr. Keisl said, is the recession that farmers and pastoralists are suffering from due to the loss of livelihoods due to climate-related impacts.
Depression is a common disease worldwide, affecting approximately 280 million people and causing more than 700,000 deaths each year from depression-related suicide. Kenya ranks her fourth highest in Africa with nearly 2 million people suffering from depression.
According to the Ministry of Health, depression accounts for 25% of the outpatient disease burden, 40% of hospital admissions and 1% of the prevalence of psychosis in the general population.
Dr Kaithuru said this proportion is likely to increase dramatically due to the climate change crisis, which has increased conflicts over water and pasture.
Dr Kaithuru said climate change is expected to kill around 250,000 people a year from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea and heat stress between 2030 and 2050.
Direct damage costs to health (that is, excluding the costs of health-determining sectors such as agriculture, water and sanitation) are estimated to be USD 2-4 billion/year by 2030.
More than 930 million people, about 12% of the world’s population, spend at least 10% of their household budget on health care.
Further exacerbating the situation is the fact that vulnerable countries have weak health infrastructures and do not provide mechanisms to deal with climate-affected populations.
Health shocks and stresses still push about 100 million people into poverty each year, as the poorest are largely uninsured, and climate change is exacerbating this trend. .
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has announced that the world must limit temperature rise to 1.5°C to avoid catastrophic health impacts and prevent millions of deaths related to climate change. says there is.
The IPCCC states that the climate crisis will affect those who contribute least to its causes and those who find it most difficult to protect themselves and their families from it: those in low-income and disadvantaged countries and communities. I am careful to make an impact.
The climate crisis threatens to undermine the last 50 years of progress in development, global health and poverty reduction, and further widen existing health disparities between and within populations.