The way forward: health policy makers enhance capacity on climate change impact and health

Thailand’s Department of Health and the Office of National Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning (ONEP) prepares for health risks from climate change. Management of the related departments strengthened their understanding of the climate change and approaches in order to develop policy, strategy, measure, activities of the department at all levels as well as cooperation with related government and private organisations.
The World Health Organization has identified climate change as the biggest global health threat of the 21st century. Exacerbating the rate of mortality from heatwaves, upscale of natural disasters, increased prevalence of vector born and waterborne diseases, its impacts on health affect from individual to global level. This is an increasingly urgent issue that requires all private and government sectors to cooperate. 

Health sector in Thailand is on the alert. On 6 June 2018, a workshop on the preparedness of implementation on health risks and climate change held by ONEP, Department of Health and Risk NAP project for the policy level management of Ministry of Public Health. It was attended by management from different departments under Ministry of Public Health as well as WHO Thailand and other health related orgnisations. The knowledge and practices gained will integrate into the (drafted) National Adaptation Plans and (drafted) National Adaptation Plan on Climate Change and Health 2018 – 2030.

Dr. Kollawat Sakhakara, Policy and Strategy Section, Climate Change Management and Coordination Division, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment stated during the workshop that “Currently, the first National Adaptation Plan is being drafted and will be submitted to the Cabinet at the year end. Various authorities have collaborated.” He also reiterated that “this is the work that cannot be done by one organisation. The main approach is the integration and cooperation from every sector.” 
ONEP has drafted the National Adaption Plan since 2015. The initial process was the study of vulnerability areas (6 strategies) and compiling the guidelines to adaptation in the second year.  The preparatory approach includes 
1. Stakeholder capacity building
2. Database system, research and development and monitoring and evaluation
3. Multi sectoral and agency collaboration
4. Institutional arrangement, budgeting and finance system and supporting mechanism
5. Local – international collaboration

6 pilot areas have been identified; Chiang Rai province, Central Chaopraya River Basin, Udon Thani province, Andaman cluster, Nakhon Sawan province and Maha Sarakham province.

Dr. Kathryn Bowen, an expert from Australian National University gave one key recommendation from lessons learnt to health sector in Thailand on the collaboration and partnership as health impact from climate change also arise from many sectors. Therefore, the fundamental importance is on effective partnership.

Later, Dr. Phongtape Wiwatanadate LL.B., M.D., Ph.D. explained that The Southeast Asia START Regional Center and the data from ECHAMA4 forecast that the temperature will rise in almost everywhere in Thailand from 34-36 degrees Celsius to 38-40 degrees Celsius. Recommendations on heat-health warning system and mechanisms at different levels in Thailand were also given. At the end of the workshop, the participants demonstrated the integrated preparation plan to cope with health risks from heat waves, illness and death from flood following the Health Development Plan.


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