Original Research

Climate change and health within the South African context: A thematic content analysis study of climate change and health expert interviews

Monika dos Santos, Juanette John, Rebecca Garland, Romeo Palakatsela, Arnaud Banos, Pim Martens, Bono Nemukula, Murdock Ramathuba, Faith Nkohla, Keobakile Lenyibi
African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine | Vol 14, No 1 | a3203 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/phcfm.v14i1.3203 | © 2022 Monika dos Santos | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 18 August 2021 | Published: 30 March 2022

About the author(s)

Monika dos Santos, Department of Psychology, College of Human Sciences, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa; and, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (UMR IDEES), University of le Havre, Le Havre, France
Juanette John, Smart Places, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Pretoria, South Africa
Rebecca Garland, Smart Places, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Pretoria, South Africa
Romeo Palakatsela, Department of Psychology, College of Human Sciences, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa
Arnaud Banos, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (UMR IDEES), University of le Havre, Le Havre, France
Pim Martens, University College Venlo, Maastricht University, Maastricht, the, Netherlands
Bono Nemukula, National Department of Health, Pretoria, South Africa
Murdock Ramathuba, National Department of Health, Pretoria, South Africa
Faith Nkohla, National Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Pretoria, South Africa
Keobakile Lenyibi, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, South African Office, Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: Climate change presents an unprecedented and urgent threat to human health and survival. South Africa’s health response will require a strong and effective intersectoral organisational effort.

Aim: Exploratory interview outcomes are used to advance practice and policy recommendations, as well as for broad input in the development of a draft national framework for a health risk and vulnerability assessment (RVA) for national departments.

Setting: Nationally in South Africa.

Method: Twenty key expert interviews were conducted with South African experts in the field of climate change and health. Interview data was analysed by means of thematic content analysis.

Results: Findings suggest that previously poor communities are most at risk to the impacts of climate change on health, as well as those with underlying medical conditions. Climate change may also serve as a catalyst for improving the healthcare system overall and should serve as the conduit to do so. A draft climate change and health RVA should take into account existing frameworks and should be implemented by local government. It is also critical that the health and health system impacts from climate change are well understood, especially in light of the plans to implement the (South African) National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme.

Conclusion: Practice and policy initiatives should be holistic in nature. Consideration should be given to forming a South African National Department of Climate Change, or a similar coordinating body between the various national departments in South Africa, as health intercepts with all other domains within the climate change field.


Keywords

climate change; health; South Africa; climate change and health expert interviews; sustainable development; healthcare systems strengthening

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International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health  vol: 19  issue: 16  first page: 10121  year: 2022  
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