Health sector holds talks on plan to tackle health risks from climate change

The consequences of climate change not only affect the health of our planet but also have a significant effect on our physical, psychological and social health. The direct effects of climate change include extreme heat, drought, floods, and increased frequency of intense storms. These catastrophic events can lead to such diseases as malaria, dengue, diarrhoea and respiratory conditions, and cause loss of life, property, farmland, as well as income.

Thailand’s Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning (ONEP) is currently developing a National Adaptation Plan (NAP) aiming to increase the resilience of society and the economy from the impacts of climate change. The health sector is one of the three pilot sectors on which capacity for risk-based adaptation is being built. The other two sectors are tourism and human settlement & security.

Organised by ONEP and the Department of Health (DoH) in cooperation with the Risk-based National Adaptation Plan (Risk-NAP) project on 30 November 2017, the second workshop on the Integration for Climate Change Implementation in the Health Sector aimed to put forward the implementation plan for the first six months from December 2017 to May 2018 as well as determine and discuss 2 pilot provinces for project implementation.  The overview of climate change, the Climate Change and Public Health Strategic Plan and the implementation of Risk-NAP project were presented. Thai and international experts presented the overall plan for the integration of climate change implementation in the health sector.

Following discussion, Nakhon Sawan and Maha Sarakham were chosen as the pilot provinces, based on the following criteria: health risks, impacts from climate change such as drought, flood and heatwaves, social and economic trends and preparedness of data, interest and cooperation. Topics covered in the discussion of the first 6-month plan covered capacity building, risk assessment, monitoring and evaluation and the integration with the policy making process and strategic planning in the health sector.

Dr. Pirun Saiyasitpanich, Director of Climate Change Management and Coordinator Division, Office of the Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning (ONEP) stressed the need for such a plan, saying: “Rising temperatures are already impacting public health and will continue to do so, leading to outbreaks of new or recurrent epidemics. A long-term plan will enable Thailand to increase its capacities and strengths to address and prepare for these health impacts.”

In earlier sessions, ONEP together with sectoral key stakeholders and with the assistance of Risk-NAP project, developed an Impact Chain for the 6 most affected sectors, namely water management, agriculture, tourism, health, natural resources and human settlements. The Impact chain captures the interrelationship between the causes and the direct and indirect effects of climate change on the ecosystem, economy and society.  Furthermore, ONEP and DoH also signed a Memorandum of Understanding to advance Thailand’s National Adaptation Plan Process and seal their cooperation at all levels.


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