Climate change has major health implications for developing countries but the links are often not well understood. This report describes the current and predicted climate impacts on human health in southern Africa. It presents a view of existing health vulnerabilities to climate change, identifies risks, assesses possible future socioeconomic conditions in relation to future health risks and identifies priorities for action. Climate change affects health in southern Africa principally through the quality and adequacy of water supply, food insecurity, infections organisms and vectors and extreme weather events, largely in that descending order of impact and significance.
The prevalence of HIV/Aids increases the vulnerabilities of individuals and communities. Low levels of progress against the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), including poor infrastructure, leaves health systems in southern Africa highly vulnerable and unprepared for the challenges of climate change. Nevertheless, southern African Development Community (SADC) ministers of health and environment are recognising the threats and have adopted a leadership position committing to addressing climate change, emphasising health adaptation measures in particular.