It was a great privilege to host and introduce the WHO Foundation Health Emergencies: Stories from the Frontline of a Climate Crisis Reception with Anil Soni, Chief Executive Officer at WHO Foundation, joined by Ndidi Okonkwo Nwuneli, Executive Chair, Sahel Consulting Agriculture & Nutrition, Emi Mahmoud, UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador, Kamal Ahmed, Editor-in-Chief and Co-founder The News Movement, and Vanina Laurent-Ledu, President of the Foundation S – The Sanofi Collective, at the World Economic Forum in Davos last week.
Using the power of storytelling, and showcasing the talent, creativity, and innovation from two regions at the frontline of a health and climate crisis in the greater Horn of Africa and the Sahel, we explored the impact climate change has on global health, from starvation to disease.
As the WHO Foundation’s Inaugural Ambassador for Global Health, and Special Advisor, Independent Advisory Group, WHO Africa Regional Office, I aim to raise awareness and tackle the particular challenges Africa and Nigeria face in global health situations by using my experience and network to mobilise a key opportunity for private sector leadership and resource procurement. I am supporting the WHO and its work on the ground as they increase the capacity of health workers, prevent the spread of disease, provide essential medicines and emergency nutrition, vaccinations, and set up mobile health centres for people forced to leave their homes.
Currently more than 60 million people across 13 countries in the greater Horn of Africa and the Sahel face extreme hunger or are in need of life-saving assistance – some countries are facing the worst drought in a generation, while others are coping with dramatic flooding. The emergency is heightened across both regions by conflict and a sharp rise in global food and fuel prices, linked to the war in Ukraine. The situation is already dire and fast deteriorating.
In my own country of Nigeria, many were displaced by devastating floods, and during that time Nigerians had no choice but to use floodwaters as drinking water, despite the risk of contracting diarrheal diseases, including cholera from contaminated water. At this moment nearly 1.5 million infants and children alone are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance and with 1.3 million people displaced – there is a growing and heightened risk of waterborne diseases, drowning and malnutrition. WHO has responded by rapidly providing emergency health kits for 900,000 people, deploying mobile health teams that are delivering emergency nutrition, medicines, vaccines, and health care in many displacement camps with particular support for children, pregnant and lactating women.
Through supporting and advocating for the WHO Foundation’s Emergency Appeal for the greater Horn of Africa and the Sahel Regions, we can tackle this escalating crisis through collective and agile action, as WHO and its partners in the region must be empowered to respond immediately and comprehensively through various resources for the utmost impact.
My Wellbeing Foundation Africa shares the WHO Foundation and WHO mission to ensure that health is for all, and that where you are born should not determine how you live. They exist to ensure that the resources and partners needed to achieve this mission are mobilised, assisting WHO to carry out life-saving work and supporting countries and communities around the world with climate-resilient healthcare.
It is crucial we continue to amplify the inspiring voices of the people addressing injustice and affecting change in their communities, to improve the health and wellbeing of the people and places they love. Global health needs us all, from every country, to work as one. We must all dedicate ourselves to keeping the world safe, and advocate for the protection of the most vulnerable. By working together, we can change the lives of future generations.