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MOH Validates Climate Change Vulnerability Adaptation Assessment :: Uganda Radionetwork
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MOH Validates Climate Change Vulnerability Adaptation Assessment

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In December 2021, the MoH committed to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) during the Conference of Parties (COP26) in Glasgow, pledging to conduct a comprehensive national health climate change vulnerability and adaptation assessment for the development of H-NAP.
Dr. Herbert Nabaasa, the Commissioner of Environmental Health at MoH and Uganda Programme Management Officer at the WHO, Dr. Suraj Man Shrestha
The Ministry of Health (MoH), in collaboration with Makerere University School of Public Health (MakSPH), has completed the validation of the Health Climate Change Vulnerability Adaptation Assessment (VAA). This assessment aims to formulate the Health National Adaptation Plan (H-NAP).

The two-day validation meeting commenced on Tuesday at Rider Hotel, Mukono, and concluded on Wednesday. Dr. Herbert Nabaasa, the Commissioner of Environmental Health at MoH, represented Dr. Diana Atwiine, the Permanent Secretary of MoH, who officially inaugurated the meeting. The VAA validation is a crucial step toward establishing a climate change-resilient health system with sustainable low carbon emissions within the health sector.

In December 2021, the MoH committed to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) during the Conference of Parties (COP26) in Glasgow, pledging to conduct a comprehensive national health climate change vulnerability and adaptation assessment for the development of H-NAP. 

Dr. Atwiine emphasized that achieving the ministry's commitments and fostering a sustainable, low-carbon resilient health system will enable anticipation, response, coping mechanisms, recovery, and adaptation to climate-related shocks and stressors. She highlighted the significance of H-NAP in minimizing greenhouse gas emissions and negative environmental impacts, safeguarding the health and well-being of present and future generations. 

“As you may all be aware, climate change is manifesting in increasing temperatures, rising water levels, changing rainfall patterns, and more frequent and severe extreme weather conditions. WHO estimates that more than 13 million annual deaths globally are due to avoidable environmental causes, including the climate crisis. With direct consequences for the key determinants of health, climate change is negatively impacting air and water quality, food security, and human habitat and shelter,” said Dr. Atwiine. 

The validated Health Climate Change Vulnerability Adaptation Assessment, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, engaged scholars from MakSPH, experts from MoH, and the World Health Organization. Dr. John Bosco Isunju, the Principal Investigator (PI), revealed that the assessment covered 1119 health facilities across 43 districts, evaluating vulnerability to various climate change hazards such as floods, storms, rising water levels, droughts, heat waves, and cold waves. 

Key findings highlighted that 47.6% of assessed health facilities faced drought exposure, 39.7% experienced floods, 31.1% encountered storms, 12.0% dealt with rising water levels, and 11.7% faced landslides. Impact assessments revealed damages to health facilities, including structural cracks at Lwampanga HC III due to storms and infrastructural losses at Kilembe Mines Hospital and Kijurera HC II due to floods. 

Moreover, the assessment identified significant impacts on the health workforce, citing threats from infectious diseases arising from water contamination and emerging vector-borne diseases. “The health workforce is also facing non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular, cancer, malnutrition, and respiratory diseases occurring due to poor air quality and higher temperatures, the findings reveal.   

Prof. Rhoda Wanyenze, the Dean of MakSPH, emphasized the challenge of disease prevention amid changing environments favoring vectors' propagation. She highlighted how global warming expands the habitat of disease vectors, enabling the spread of diseases like malaria, dengue, and others into previously unaffected populations. 

“For instance, global warming expands the area where mosquitoes can spread and alongside their spread, they move with the various illnesses for which they act as vectors like malaria, dengue, lymphatic filariasis, yellow fever, Zika, West Nile fever. These illnesses get into populations that have not been exposed to them before and, therefore have no immunity at all, and viruses or parasites thrive, they may even mutate into novel species that could be virulent once brought back to the previous populations,” Prof. Wanyenze said. 

Dr. Suraj Man Shrestha, the Uganda Programme Management Officer at WHO, stressed the need to build health systems that respond to current needs while being resilient in the face of climate change, both in Uganda and globally.