The Asian Development Bank (ADB) announced today that a six-year regional technical assistance initiative has increased the capacity of health systems in Cambodia, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR), and Vietnam to respond to climate-related health threats in the midst of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
The Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Strengthening Resilience to Climate Change in the Health Sector project assisted the three countries in developing national health adaptation plans to address weather-related health risks such as heat and communicable diseases like dengue, malaria, heat stress, and diarrhea.
In total, it produced extensive vulnerability and adaptation assessments for 14 high-risk provinces in those nations, as well as providing climate change and health adaptation training to over 1,300 health sector employees.
Furthermore, over 600 policymakers from the public and commercial sectors attended high-level lobbying meetings and workshops on topics such as national health adaptation strategies and disease surveillance and response coordination, among other things.
The study also assisted the three governments in identifying cost-effective investments to minimize mortality and morbidity from climate-related diseases. Establishing early heat warning systems and modernizing health facilities to be more climate-resilient, particularly in remote and marginalized regions, were among them.
The project was approved in 2015, with the Nordic Development Fund providing a $4.4 million grant and the three governments providing matching funds. It was the ADB’s first project in Southeast Asia to help governments better respond to the effects of climate change on health care. It capitalized on the ADB’s competitive advantage in promoting and strengthening regional health cooperation as a public good.
Climate change is a severe threat to Cambodia’s, Lao People’s Democratic Republic’s, and Vietnam’s long-term economic development. As part of their national strategy plans on climate change, all three have approved public health strategic plans.
Cambodia’s Preventive Medicine Department, Lao PDR’s Department of Hygiene and Health Promotion, and Vietnam’s Health Environment Management Agency collaborated on the initiative. The technical assistance’s preparation, implementation, capacity-building activities, and knowledge sharing were all actively participated in by all three countries.
The initiative, which included a database, a modeling approach, and a digital atlas, enabled timely data gathering enabling governments to assess the impact of climate change on public health. The project also educated national and provincial health officials on climate-sensitive disease surveillance, epidemiology data analysis, and health issues that affect women, children, and other vulnerable groups.
The Asian Development Bank is dedicated to establishing a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific while continuing to fight extreme poverty. It was founded in 1966 and is owned by 68 members, 49 of them are from the region.