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African Journal of Emergency Medicine
Volume 12 (2), 2022, Pages 121-128

Climate change and emergency care in Africa: A scoping review

Elzarie Therona, Corey B Billsb, Emilie J Calvello Hynesb

Division of Emergency Medicine, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa.



Climate change is a global public health emergency with implications for access to care and emergency care service disruptions. The African continent is particularly vulnerable to climate-related extreme weather events due to an already overburdened health system, lack of early warning signs, poverty, inadequate infrastructure, and variable adaptive capacity. Emergency care services are not only utilized during these events but also threatened by these hazards. Considering that the effects of climate change are expected to increase in intensity and prevalence, it is increasingly important for emergency care to prepare to respond to the changes in presentation and demand. The aim of this study was to perform a scoping review of the available literature on the relationship between climate change and emergency care on the African continent.


A scoping review was completed using five databases: Pubmed, Web of Science, GreenFILE, Africa Wide Information, and Google Scholar. A ‘grey’ literature search was done to identify key reports and references from included articles. Two independent reviewers screened articles and a third reviewer decided conflicts. A total of 1,382 individual articles were initially screened with 17 meeting full text review. A total of six articles were included in the final analysis. Data from four countries were represented including Uganda, Ghana, Tanzania, and Nigeria.


Analysis of the six articles yielded three key themes that were identified: climate-related health impacts that contribute to surges in demand and resource utilization, opportunities for health sector engagement, and solutions to improve emergency preparedness. Authors used the outcomes of the review to propose 10 recommendations for decision-makers and leaders.


Incorporating these key recommendations at the local and national level could help improve preparedness and adaptation measures in highly vulnerable, populated areas on the African continent.

Keywords: Climate change, Disaster preparedness, Climate change adaptation, Climate change resilience, Emergency medicine.

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