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Apr 1, 2018

Learning from National Conference on Climate Change and Health (CC - Health) , Kathmandu Post 14 / 24 (Feb 2018)

Climate change and its uproar all over the globe is getting louder than ever at every front, be it academic, scientific, or political as well as environmental communities. When it comes to Nepal, we are situated in such a climate sensitive geographic Himalayan region, we are affected with adverse events related with climate change never felt before couple of decades ago. With this noise that is heard and read in everyday newspaper, Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) and National Health Research Council (NHRC), Nepal organised 2 days conference with a financial as well as technical support from World Health Organisation (WHO) country office Nepal.

Technical Session in progress at the conference (Photo Credit - Anuj Bhattachan)

As anybody else, I am always interested in listening to what chief guest and other distinguished delegates have to say on the subject that directly or indirectly affects people's livelihood on the ground. In the inaugural speech,  Dr. Bhola Ram Shrestha, Chief Curative division, at MoH said that "climate change and its affect on health is currently felt everywhere and particularly, the affect is felt the most in low income countries like Nepal. As a result, there are various negative consequences like reduction in agricultural productivity, increase in infectious diseases (even generation of new microbes). It is reported that 23 % of deaths worldwide are now related with climate change, which is a complex interaction of several environmental factors with increasing negative impact disproportionately affecting health of people living in low income countries. Noteworthy, the progressive increase in ambient temperature results in decreasing productivity of labor and thus affecting local as well as national economics. Next question that arise in this conversation is how to quantify these impacts in human health or in agriculture sectors? Therefore, there is acute need to generate data that measure and track progress and effects, enabling us with enough scientific evidence(s) for policy decision making in the ministry. Instead, if we lose track of what we need to do for future generation in climate change sector, there will be an irreversible cost to human lives. In this respect, our government is committed and working on national adaptation to climate change. Also, the recent Male Declaration will be an important document that guides us in carrying out climate change related research, in designing climate change adaptation plan in our South Asian context. 

The Mr. Tej Raj Bhatt, DG, Department of Water, Sanitation and Sewage (DWSS) said that "looking from climate vulnerability lens  – we are vulnerable to CC – and its consequences on health of the people. He stressed that DWSS is committed in working to tackle CC and there is climate change section for carrying our research  and contribute in formulating adaptation plan under ministry of environment. The WHO representative, Dr. Jos Vandelaer said that CC is not a new issue, whereby many studies have reported that increase in temp, erratic and intense rainfall, more frequent natural disaster/ extreme changes are ongoing phenomena. CC is a biggest threat to health of people and thus bringing economic change mainly through food insecurity. Undoubtedly, Nepal is the most vulnerable  as a country in terms of CC - Health.  DFID grant is also working on disease surveillance looking into climate sensitive indicators. Therefore, there is an expectation from WHO,  what is next step? and way forward to mitigate climate change and its effects on health in Nepal. 

Dr Shushil Pyakurel, Chief Specialist, MoHP illuminated all of us with his decades of public health experiences. He said that drying of water sources, a common observation throughout far west, has led to increasing trend of migration. The key reason is the increasing deforestation, which has affected farming and thus local economics. Another grave concern is the increasing trend in morbidity, mortality, disability related with vector borne diseases. He said, therefore, there is a need to explore and enforce strict rules regulation that bind transportation sector and industries (brick / cement). Also, there is increasing infrastructure development work, this also needs regulation so there is no negative environmental consequences. The is also need for inter country collaboration. 

Ms. Padma Kumari Aryal, Honorable State Minister, MoHP said in her inaugural speech that the climate change and its effect on health is government’s high priority and expect result oriented outcome from this conference. The is also a need for national as well as international collaboration and effort to jointly tackle CC – Health. Minister also stressed that there is an increasing reports of disasters (flooding/ landslide/glacier river), which are affecting directly the livelihood of communities. This is therefore a sensitive subject matter and only policy is not enough,  what we need is its real implementation with close coordination/collaboration with local government and communities, while we can’t neglect international support and collaboration. 

First day

Technical Session I
  • Climate change in Nepal: Observed trends and future scenarios
  • Overview of climate resilient health system
  • Overview of health impacts of climate change in Nepal
 Technical Session II
  • Impacts of climate change on WASH
  • Effectiveness of HH and community level WASH interventions in reducing health vulnerability to climate in Dolakha
  • Effects of climate change on diarrhoeal diseases at national and sub-national level in Nepal

Second day

Technical Session III
  • Gender perspectives on the health impacts of environmental and climate change in Nepal
  • Climate change policy and financing in Nepal
  • Health Sector response to climate change in Nepal 

31 March 2018

Anuj in Himalayas

Hi i am connecting disqus with my blog for healthy interaction and open dialogue