Fiji Project Objective
To increase the adaptive capacity of the health sector to respond to climate sensitive risks.
Key Health Concerns and Vulnerability to Climate Change
Fiji has conducted a study looking at which afflictions have a clear link with climate change. Dengue fever, diarrhoeal diseases (food and water borne) and nutrition-related illnesses were all shown to be linked to climate and have the potential to worsen with increasing climate change and variability.
Climate change (and the associated temperature rise) will impact dengue-fever by increasing the frequency of epidemics, as well as the possibility that a larger proportion of the population will be affected by each epidemic. With severe climate change there is even a chance that dengue will become endemic rather than occur in isolated epidemics. Improper water storage practices in water stricken areas have also been associated with an increase in mosquito breeding sites and the risk for related diseases.
Diarrhoeal disease may become more common if Fiji becomes warmer and wetter and if droughts and tropical cyclones occur more frequently, disrupting water supplies and sanitation systems.
Nutrition-related illnesses are most likely to be affected by increases in frequency and/or magnitude of tropical cyclone and drought events. Further, it is also likely that if climate change leads to economic and social disruption and environmental degradation, disadvantageous effects on health may be serious.
The greatest national health benefit of the proposed project is having a functional Health Information System that is capable of generating Early Warning Systems for Climate Sensitive Diseases. Other linked benefits include:
- Enabling field practitioners carry out required interventions as per requirement of EWARS Guidelines, the Psychosocial Intervention Guidelines.
- Creating awareness amongst communities hence having communities that are more resilient to climate change and variability.
- Strengthening both inter disciplinary collaboration and communication within all levels the Ministry of Health.
- Strengthening inter sectoral collaboration at all levels with other key government agencies such as the Fiji Meteorological Service, the National Disaster Management Office.
Results and Learning:
This project has been designed to increase the Ministry of Health’s capacity to monitor, assess and respond to hydro-meteorological disasters (HMDs) and Climate Sensitive Diseases (CSDs) and thus reduce health risks associated with climate change and variability. In order to be able to achieve this goal, several specific needs have been identified:
- Mainstreaming and planning - Climate Sensitive Diseases need to be incorporated in the Strategic Planning stages of the Ministry of Health and specifically reflected in the National Health Outcomes as well as the Disaster Preparedness Plans and the National Contingency Plans for Drought and Floods.
- Evaluation - National policies and plans have to be evaluated with specific attention to Watershed and Water Resource Management.
- Assessments - Incorporation of Environmental and Health Impact Assessment (E&HIA) as an integral part of new land and infrastructure development approval in addressing issues involving climate change adaptation to protect human health.
- Response - Intensifying surveillance and response programmes for CSDs during HMDs and other disasters and enhancing activities to rapidly and effectively respond to HMDs and CSDs with specific attention on psychosocial intervention.