THE recent world climate indaba in Paris, France may have quashed any and all doubt in some people about the developed world’s indictment over its pollution of the atmosphere, resulting in global warming and climate change with incessant floods in parts of the world and recurrent droughts in other parts as results.
Yet the universal unanimity on the culprits responsible for putting humankind on a collision course with self-annihilation does not appear in any way to end the price that African and other less developed countries are having to pay for the impunity of wealthier nations that have been spewing carbon gases into the air as a result of which the globe is heating up beyond unbearable consequences for humanity, particularly in the least developed states (LDS) which are themselves not culpable, or at worst less so for some of the countries.
Countries most vulnerable to global warming and climate change now probably believe that after Paris 2015 the world may have entered the home stretch in reversing otherwise incalculable damage to global temperatures caused by rich nations’ irresponsible behaviour.
This pen however remains suspicious that because of previous vacillations by world climate offenders to mend their ways, any commitment those same countries made at Paris to make mother earth a better place in which to live may have come from the lip rather than from the heart and may thus remain unfulfilled.
Reference is made, in particular to pledges made by the richer nations, to help poorer countries contain the consequences of global warming in the form of droughts and floods spawned by climate change which LDS find it difficult to overcome, given their lack of technologies to also adapt to the negative effects of climate change, such as droughts now affecting Zimbabwe and other African countries in addition to the destructive floods.
Recent world press reports have indicated that hundreds of people in East Africa, for instance, have been displaced by droughts that have resulted in poor or lack of harvests and therefore food shortages and hunger.
Here at home hunger is now a familiar story in many districts as a result of the drought which saw many families realising meagre food crop harvests or none at all, and with reports that villagers in some drought-ravaged districts are losing livestock which account for draught power for many families.
The government has imported food from Zambia to replenish what little stocks are available so that as the state has promised, “No Zimbabwean should die of hunger”.
But while the government in this country and others elsewhere on the African continent are engaged in helter-skelter moves to save lives in the wake of El Nino-induced droughts, as those seen in much of Africa including Zimbabwe, one important story remains untold.
It is the story about the threat to the blooming of the Zimbabwean flower into a future nation – as well as the blooming of the flowers of other African states – which is caused by drought-related diseases.
Medical experts abroad have indicated that mosquitoes multiply and cause untold havoc especially among children in hot weather conditions, resulting in malaria which is known to kill many children in affected countries.
Add to that malnutrition caused by lack of food, which reduces resistance to illnesses, not to mention stunted growth which retards full physical and mental development of the child.
Medical experts in the developed world suggest that strong health institutions will be needed to tackle challenges that bedevil children as climate change continues to pose health risks to young people.
An academy of pediatrics appears to feature in the thinking of health experts as a possible answer to tackling challenges that climate change poses to the health of young children.
The dictionary defines an academy as “a society of learned people united for the advancement of the arts and science and literature, or some particular art or science”.
This pen strongly believes that Zimbabwe and other LDS needs a pediatric academy at this point in time when global temperatures are nowhere down to the required 1.5 degrees centigrade from a high that has been responsible for heating up the globe to dangerous levels. A source at one of Zimbabwe’s old and major referral centres, Mpilo Central Hospital, also said this week that the idea of a pediatrics academy was “fantastic” as, he said, it would result in a pool of experts to help deal with children’s diseases resulting from the effects of climate change.
Such health or medical experts would, for instance, play a pivotal role in dealing with children’s diseases in rural hospitals and this would stem a flood of the sick kids being referred to referral hospitals, thereby overburdening health workers there.
The source said that Mpilo already enjoyed the services of an expert in play theory – making children play with toys as a way of helping in their treatment.
Yes the country already boasts a strong health institution in the Zimbabwe Medical Association (ZIMA). This pen believes, however, that a pediatrics academy will go a long way in complementing the work of ZIMA in order that our country may have a healthier nation to tackle present and future social, political and economic challenges.
Feeding schemes supervised by nutrition specialists in schools, and other designated centres will no doubt go a long way in maintaining robust health for young people and thus boosting their resistance to disease.