Header photo UNICEF/Andrianantenaina

Climate Change and Health

The Challenge

Climate change is the largest global health challenge of the 21st century. It represents a profound threat to the Global Fund’s mission to defeat HIV, tuberculosis (TB) and malaria, save lives and build a healthier, safer, more equitable world for all.

While the threat of the climate crisis is universal, the speed and severity of the impacts are not.  Countries that are the least responsible for carbon emissions are often the most vulnerable to its effects and the least able to adapt. They are often countries with a high disease burden, where the Global Fund has made significant investments in HIV, TB and malaria programs and health and community systems.

Malaria is one of the most climate-sensitive diseases. Temperature changes, shifting rainfall patterns and extreme weather events are affecting the spread of malaria. Climate change is expanding mosquito habitats to higher elevation areas and making the malaria transmission season longer.

Climate change also jeopardizes our mission to end AIDS and TB. Climate disasters and extreme weather events are causing people to become displaced. This leads to disruptions in health service delivery and essential diagnosis and treatment services, which in turn can lead to increased disease transmission and drug resistance.

Compounding these challenges, climate change impacts the Global Fund’s mission to reduce health inequities by worsening existing inequalities and vulnerabilities of people affected by HIV, TB and malaria.


Our Response

The Global Fund is committed to promoting low-carbon, climate-resilient health systems and addressing the impacts of climate change on the fight against HIV, TB and malaria. We support countries that are the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change – 71% of our new investments (2023-2025) will go to the 50 most climate-vulnerable countries.

We support countries to respond to the impact of extreme weather events on the diseases we fight by providing rapid, flexible emergency funding. We also invest over US$1.5 billion a year to strengthen health systems to be more climate-resilient and better prepared for pandemic threats.

For example, the Global Fund supports countries to digitize their health systems and health records so that they are not lost when a climate disaster hits. We also invest in community health workers so that they can reach people in the most remote locations. Engaging with and empowering communities and civil society is crucial to understanding context-specific climate risks to health. Communities and civil society are the key to identifying and scaling up locally led climate solutions to build health systems and services that can withstand the increasing impacts of climate change.

Fighting deadly infectious diseases must go hand-in-hand with responding to climate change. This is our fight. We won’t stop until the job is finished.


Conflict and Climate Change Are Supercharging Malaria, But It Can Be Stopped

The link between climate and the spread of malaria is well-acknowledged. As the planet warms, the threat posed by this ancient killer will only increase. We are already seeing signs of that future. In 2022, Pakistan experienced its worst malaria outbreak in 50 years when climate-driven mass flooding created large pools of stagnant water and disrupted health systems, creating “the perfect storm” for mosquitos to thrive.

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We Must Not Let Climate Change Derail The Fight Against Malaria

The world is at a defining moment in the fight against malaria. After years of rapid advances against the disease, progress stalled around 2015. Since then, the malaria community has faced a cascade of challenges, including drug and insecticide resistance, conflict, Covid-19 and climate change.

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As the Climate Crisis Escalates, Building Resilient Health Systems Is Imperative

When torrential rains from Cyclone Freddy unleashed a flood in Malawi earlier this year, the extreme weather event claimed more than 1,000 lives and upended the livelihoods of millions of people. The floods also swept away a wealth of essential health data and medical supplies, medicines, equipment and infrastructure, mosquito nets, antiretroviral drugs (ARVs), contraceptives, tuberculosis (TB) medicines and many other items—leaving many people exposed to public health risks and disease.

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Building Back After Historic Storm

When the floodwaters started rushing through Celina Tembe’s home, a neighbor helped Celina and her three children to safety. “In the past, we knew that during the winter there would be no rain,” says Celina. “But nowadays it has become… normal.” Most of Celina’s neighborhood in Boane District, Mozambique, was under water. She and her family fled to a local school that had been transformed into an accommodation center for families displaced by the flooding.

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In Mozambique, Fighting Back Malaria After Cyclone Freddy

In the wake of Cyclone Freddy, Celina’s home was completely flooded and her and her three children were forced to flee for safety. Shortly after, Celina’s two young daughters caught malaria. Their diagnosis came only six-months after Celina’s 35-year-old husband had died from the disease.

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One Mozambican Woman’s Fight Against Malaria – “the Devil” That Took Her Husband’s Life

“Malaria is the devil that came to my house,” Celina Tembe says softly, her hand touching the head of her 3-year-old daughter, Manuela Manuel. In August last year, her 35-year-old husband, Manuel Maxaieie, came home late from work as a machine operator, tired and feverish. Celina said he should go to the clinic, but he insisted paracetamol would do, and the next morning he went back to work.

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Felled by a Warming World: Will Malaria Be the Next Pandemic?

The next global health crisis might not be another pandemic caused by a novel respiratory infection. Instead, we could see climate change dramatically increasing the threat from an existing infectious disease–for example, malaria, a disease that kills one child every minute of every day.

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In Pakistan, Climate Change Brings Malaria

As Fazila navigates her way through her own crisis, she is also protecting her community. After losing her home and all her belongings in the unprecedented floods in Sindh province, Pakistan, in 2022, Fazila, a 25-year-old midwife, began working in mobile health units set up by the Indus Hospital and Health Network.

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Published: 30 November 2023