In UAE, Tony Elumelu advocates climate funding for healthcare delivery

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== By Mariam  Ileyemi==

The Chairman of the United Bank for Africa (UBA) Group, Tony Elumelu, has suggested allocating part of climate funding to address healthcare issues worsened by climate change. During a panel session at the Health Leaders’ Forum in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on Monday 13 May 2024, Mr Elumelu observed that climate change is leading to new diseases, insisting that climate funds need to “be accessed to address healthcare as well.”

“We hear so much about available climate financing for renewable energy projects, as well as climate change adaptation and resilience projects — but what about unlocking climate funding for healthcare delivery?” he queried. “With private sector innovation, start-up funding from foundations and financial institutions, health care policies from national and global health systems, investments from all as well as cross-sector collaboration, we can move humanity forward.”

Between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 250,000 additional deaths per year, from under-nutrition, malaria, diarrhoea, and heat stress alone, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). WHO noted that the direct damage costs to health are estimated at between US$ 2 to 4 billion per year by 2030.

Mr Elumelu also decried the effect of the energy deficit on healthcare delivery in Africa, even as he called for innovative work across social sectors to achieve results. “A high percentage of healthcare facilities in Africa do not have reliable power supply— without power, the health outcomes will be low,” he said. He said during the COVID-19 pandemic, the power issue was a major problem, saying isolation wards had no power, and that it was also a challenge to store vaccines sent to the continent. “The global renewable energy sector, both thermal and hydro energy sectors should step in to address this massive energy deficiency in Africa to realise health outcomes in the continent.”

Speaking about global health equity, Mr Elumelu said there are significant imbalances in the quality of health outcomes, noting that poor countries miss out while rich countries enjoy excessive investments in research and development, and medical devices and practices for health conditions. He said: “But the quality of healthcare in the world’s poorest countries can have an impact on the richest countries — the world is interconnected, and climate change is making transmission happen faster. “COVID-19 started in China and quickly spread to all parts of the world. The lesson here is that we should be interested in global health equity and not just national health because poor health outcomes affect all everywhere,” he said.

The Abu Dhabi Health Leaders Forum is an exclusive, invitation-only opening forum, and an integral part of the Abu Dhabi Global Healthcare Week. The 2024 forum was tagged: “Reimagining Health and Life: Partnering to Invest in Humanity”.

Mr Elumelu revealed on his website that he would participate in a high-level panel session with other speakers including the UNAIDS Special Advocate on Young Women and Adolescent Girls in Namibia, Monica Geingos; Director of the Presidential Court Office of International Affairs, Mariam Almheiri; and CEO, Crescent Enterprises, Badr Jafar. The forum convenes global health ministers, policymakers, and chief executives of global entities who are playing influential roles in transforming the future of healthcare.

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