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Reframing Climate Change as a Public Health Issue: Challenges and Opportunities in the Philippines


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Oral presentation delivered during the Second National Conference on Climate Change, with the theme "Linking Climate Knowledge to Action." September 26, 2013, Traders Hotel Manila, Philippines.

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Reframing Climate Change as a Public Health Issue: Challenges and Opportunities in the Philippines

  1. 1. Challenges and Opportunities in the Philippines Ramon Lorenzo Luis R. Guinto, MD September 26, 2013 Second National Conference on Climate Change
  2. 2.  No. 6 in the Climate Change Vulnerability Index  No. 3 most vulnerable to disaster risks and natural hazards in the World Risk Index 2011, next to Vanuatu and Tonga
  3. 3.  Only 1 in 2 Filipinos aware of climate change (Pulse Asia August 2010 survey)  Climate Change Commission facing difficulties even within government  Seemingly slow progress in implementation of adaptation measures at local level
  4. 4. Ramos and Villamor, Benguet State University
  5. 5.  Frames - interpretive storylines that set a specific train of thought in motion, communicating why an issue might be a problem, who or what might be responsible for it, and what should be done about it
  6. 6. Source: WHO
  7. 7.  Malaria  Diarrhea  Meningitis  Dengue Fever  Floods and Cyclones  Drought  Airborne Dispersion of Hazardous Materials  Heat Stress  UV Radiation  Pollens  Air Pollution
  8. 8.  About one third of Americans, one half of Canadians, and two- thirds of Maltese said that people are already being harmed  Relatively few people answered open-ended questions in a manner that indicated clear top-of-mind associations between climate change and human health risks
  9. 9.  Global warming’s six Americas:  Two of the five segments responded positively to the public health essay  Five of the six segments responded more positively to information about the health benefits associated with mitigation-related policy actions than to information about the health risks of climate change.
  10. 10.  Thinking in a far longer time frame than has been customary in health planning through systems approach that extends well beyond the current boundaries of the health sciences and the formal health sector  Communicating about the risks posed by climate change requires messages that motivate constructive engagement and support wise policy choices  Acting through interventions that address climate change should offer a range of health, environmental, economic, and social benefits
  11. 11.  Health is an important value to Filipinos ◦ Household consumption expenditure for health: 15.2% growth in 2012 (NSCB) ◦ Challenge: broadening the view of health beyond disease care  In general, health concerns are immediately felt and requires urgent attention  Health brings a perspective that makes the problem more personally relevant, significant, and understandable to members of the public ◦ Climate change can be incorporated in existing health education activities
  12. 12.  Climate change: Health impacts are varied in terms of: ◦ Time frame (short-, medium-, long-term) ◦ Evolution of signs and symptoms (acute, chronic) ◦ Distribution (geographical, social) ◦ Severity (mild, moderate, severe)  However, from a medical and public health perspective, health impacts of climate change are: ◦ Avoidable and preventable ◦ Curable with cost-effective measures  Filipinos’ reception of a public health reframing of climate change can be studied, but action should not be delayed
  13. 13. Source: Dr. Gatan-Magturo, Department of Health
  14. 14.  Climate Change ◦ Climate Change Act of 2009 (RA 9729) ◦ National Framework Strategy on Climate Change (NFSCC) 2010-2022 ◦ National Climate Change Action Plan (NCCAP) 2011-2028  Disaster Risk Reduction and Management ◦ Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010 (RA 10121) ◦ National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Plan 2011‐2028
  15. 15. Source: Dr. Gatan-Magturo, Department of Health
  16. 16.  Department Circular: Adaptation of Climate Change Framework for Health  Philippine Strategy on Climate Change Adaptation for the Health Sector  DOH Department Personnel Order No. 2010 – 2977: Creation of a Technical Committee for Climate Change and Health  DOH Administrative Order No. 005 S. 2012: National Policy on Climate Change Adaptation for Health Sector  DOH Department Personnel Order No. 2011 – 2458: Creation of a Climate Change Unit
  17. 17.  World Health Assembly Resolution 61.19 on Climate Change and Health  WHO Western Pacific Region Resolution 59.7 on Protecting Health from the Effects of Climate Change  WHO Regional Framework for Action to Protect Human Health from Effects of Climate Change in the Asia-Pacific Region
  18. 18.  STRATEGIC PRIORITY 3: Improving the resiliency of national and local institutions against health security risks and threats. ◦ Main Focus Area 3.3 Increasing capacity of key national and local government agencies to manage the health impact of climate change.  Strategic Approach 3.3.1 Strengthen advocacy, policy and health systems support through partnership with other sectors and stakeholders.  Strategic Approach 3.3.2 Develop and test new technologies, tools and guidelines, including a monitoring and evaluation system for climate change interventions.  Strategic Approach 3.3.3. Support epidemiological research to determine the nature and measure the impact of different aspects of climate change on health outcomes (to help in future priority- setting)
  19. 19.  Surveillance systems ◦ Event-based Surveillance and Response System in the Community (ESRC) ◦ Surveillance in Post-Extreme Emergencies and Disasters (SPEED)  Hospital assessment of disaster preparedness  Capacity-building among health workers  Communication and education  Health vulnerability and capacity assessment tools
  20. 20.  Department of Health to champion a health reframing of climate change across sectors  DOH to equip the media with information that highlight the health impacts of climate change  Reorient health sector to be prepared for climate change – begin with health workforce training and education
  21. 21. Whoever would study medicine aright must learn of the following subjects. First he must consider the effect of the seasons of the year and the differences between them. Secondly he must study the warm and the cold winds, both those which are in common to every country and those peculiar to a particular locality. Lastly, the effect of water on health must not be forgotten. On Air, Water, and Places By Hippocrates Father of Medicine
  22. 22.  Promote climate change mitigation measures that provide co-benefits to health ◦ Sustainable transport – reduces injury, prevents obesity and other noncommunicable diseases ◦ Air pollution control – reduces respiratory diseases due to hazardous airborne materials  Promote public health interventions that are also climate change adaptation measures ◦ Water and sanitation – prevents diarrheal disease ◦ Vector control – prevents vector- borne infections
  23. 23.  Incorporate climate awareness and preparedness in national and local health planning – beyond disaster risk reduction  Broaden the scope of climate and health messages to include impact on the social determinants of health –”Health in All Policies” approach ◦ Food security ◦ Worsening of poverty ◦ Job insecurity ◦ Destruction of infrastructure -> Economic loss
  24. 24.  Package Kalusugang Pangkalahatan as a climate adaptation measure – stronger health systems with universal coverage that can respond to people affected by climate-related health impacts Creates climate resilience from health impacts Promotes health equity and prevents widening of gaps
  25. 25.  While existing climate change policy frameworks refer to some health aspects, there is still room for highlighting the need for protecting the health of Filipinos from climate change, as well as the indispensable role of the health sector in climate action.  The Department of Health should play a more prominent role in driving a whole-of- government or “Health in All Policies” approach to climate change and its impacts.
  26. 26.  Furthermore, alliances with national media should be forged in order to develop a concerted communication strategy which will present climate change to the general public through a health lens.  Building capacity within the Philippine health sector to combat the health effects of climate change should also be pursued.
  27. 27.  Finally, adopting a public health approach to climate change is feasible and acceptable especially today, as current government efforts towards universal health care are clearly compatible with the goal of strengthening health systems in order to ensure health protection and health equity in an era of global climate change.
  28. 28. "Health is not everything, but without health everything is nothing." Arthur Schopenhauer German Philosopher