by Tess Adams Nyantakanga

In a bid to raise awareness of the connection among climate, health and pandemics, Journalists Association Against AIDS in partnership with Advocacy Organisation AVAC held a media science cafe on Friday 28 July 2023, at Blantyre Lodge in Blantyre.

The cafe’s facilitator and program manager for Journalists Association Against AIDS Dingaan Mithi bemoaned how Malawian policies with similar goals of environmental conservation and health work individually instead of joining forces to curb challenges that contribute to disasters and pandemics like cyclone Freddy and COVID 19.

“The biggest challenge we have seen is that Malawi now doesn’t have a OneHealth approach, we don’t have one health strategy because right now what Malawi needs is to have a one health strategy which recognizes the linkages of climate change, environment and how these relate to infectious diseases and pandemics”. Said Mithi.

Concerning the genesis of epidemics and marriage of factors like climate, environment and health, Mithi said, “there’s need to implement a wider range of policies to do with climate , environment and health as the current policies don’t link, hence the need for journalists to take part in creating a framework which recognizes theses linkages”.

Presenting her research, AGE Africa Southern Region Program’s Coordinator, Irina Manjomo Pasiya said their research findings indicate that after natural disasters such as cyclones, girls, children, disabled people and women are usually the most vulnerable group of people to succumb to the effects than men;health issues such as malnutrition, vulnerability to STI’s as a result of transactional sex and sex exploitation in cases of emergencies.

Pasiya said; “In response to the challenge the organisation took an initiative in training young girls to curb environmental degradation.”

“Basically, what the girls have done so far includes planting of trees in the most affected areas in their communities; the girls have also through our partners been practicing smart agriculture”. She added.

Another shocking eye opener yet enlightening truth about the relationship between waste mismanagement and infectious diseases came from a Malawi Liverpool Trust PhD researcher Patrick Ken Kalonde who explained how plastic bags aid as breeding ground for germs that cause infectious diseases when the plastics form moisture since they do not decompose.

Reported by Tess Adams

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