The member countries of WHO South-East Asia Region committed to build climate resilient health systems to cope with and adapting to climate-related shocks and stress as they unanimously endorsed the Mal, Declaration yesterday.
"Climate change is happening, and it is a risk to public health...climate change is already having an impact across our region...so we need to build climate resilient health system urgently to protect our people," said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia.
The declaration, she said, adopted at the Seventieth Regional Committee session of the WHO South-East Asia Region demonstrates the commitment of the member countries to take effective and immediate action in this regard.
Regional Committee of the WHO South-East Asia Region - the Region's highest decision-making body - builds on recent initiatives at country, regional and global levels to tackle the public health risks caused by the climate change.
The declaration is accompanied by a Framework for Action to be implemented between 2017 and 2022.
It called on UN agencies and other international organizations, development partners, philanthropic agencies, academic and civil society organizations to mobilize human, financial and technical resources for this purpose.
"Building health systems resilience to climate change requires buy-in from all stakeholders," the Regional Director emphasized.
As outlined in the declaration, core action points include establishing and strengthening climate change and health information systems and research, integrating climate risks with national disaster risk management,
Enhancing health sector preparedness for climate-related events, waste management and electricity, and initiating the greening of the health sector by adopting environment-friendly technologies and using energy-efficient services, she said.
Dr Khetrapal Singh said health systems can protect vulnerable populations across the region against health risks caused by climate change by fully implementing these and other initiatives.
In this connection, she emphasized WHO's support to member countries as they implement the Mal, Declaration and committed to mobilizing resources, promoting knowledge and experience-sharing mechanisms and providing technical support to member countries at the same time as building local capacity.
She affirmed WHO's commitment to presenting a progress report at the Seventy-fifth session of the WHO Regional Committee for South-East Asia in 2022.
"WHO South-East Asia Region is committed to supporting member countries as they strive to strengthen health systems to deal with one of the 21st century's most pressing issues - climate change," Dr Khetrapal Singh said.
The seventieth session of the Regional Committee is currently being held in Maldives and includes health ministers and senior health ministry officials from the member countries - Bangladesh, Bhutan, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Timor-Leste.
The five-day 70th session of the Regional Committee formally began in Male, the capital of Maldives on Wednesday and to be concluded on September 10.