A three day regional workshop on ‘The impact of climate change on health was organized by the regional delegation for cooperation in Bangkok and the Embassy of France in Jakarta from the 16-18 June 2009 at Jakarta, Indonesia.
The purpose of this regional workshop was to gather the ASEAN think thanks to examine the implications of climate change on health in South East Asia. This workshop was attended by the Ministry of Health officials particularly in the environmental or public health discipline from Vietnam, LAO PDR, Thailand, Myanmar, Philippines, Indonesia the host country and Malaysia.
The first counsellor ,MR Roux Jean-Yves from the French Embassy in his opening remarks stated that it was important to study the impact of climate change to health in relation to a given climatic environment as there are regional differences in the way climate change affects different parts of the world. He also stressed that the prevalence of infectious and transmissible disease will be enhanced if the climate becomes hotter and more humid as it is in this part of the world (South East Asia). This statement supports the fact that health systems of some countries in South East Asia are still very vulnerable and more likely to be at risk in the event of climate changes affecting them.
There were two moderators namely Professor Jean-Francois Guegan from the Institute for Development, France who spoke on theorethical overview of the topic and thinking overviews in France and actions taken and Mr Alexander Von Hilderbrand, Regional Advisor, Environemntal and Climate change, WHO, SEARO, from New Delhi,India who spoke on the specificities of the region in relation to climate change.
The participating ASEAN countries each presented their national policies situation in relation to climate change which was chaired by me and in the absence of a MOH participant form Malaysia. I gave a brief outline of the agencies involved and research projects conducted in Malaysia in relation to climate change.
The participants were divided into 2 groups on the second day to deliberate on the development and implementation of mitigation and adaptation planes to reduce the potential disease burdens related to the impact of climate change.
A draft recommendation was presented on the third day emphasizing on the following priority actions: Increase awareness on the impact of climate change on health amongst health care professionals, NGOs, school teachers and students, youths and media Develop the capacity of the health sector to better respond to the challenges ahead by strengthening the training component Develop and implement mechanisms and strategies to increase the importance of human health impacts in national policies and action plans aimed at mitigating and adapting to climate change Conduct applied research to collect evidence-based data and Engage with national partners in the government, NGO and business sectors at local,regional,national and international levels, including professionals associations and religious groups as well as the French government and WHO to: Support climate action initiatives with experts and organization of group educational activities Support technically and financially in the development of advocacy and training materials Mobilize funds to address health action related to climate change and Support holistic actions to empower local communities to render them more climate-resilient. The closing speech was delivered by Stephane Foin from the French Embassy in Indonesia on the 18 June midday.