The objective of this first global project on public health adaptation to climate change is to “increase adaptive capacity of national health system institutions, including field practitioners, to respond to climate-sensitive health risks”. This will contribute to the broader goal of ensuring that “Health sectors are able to cope with health risks resulting from climate change, including variability”.
Key Health Concerns and Vulnerability to Climate Change
Bhutan suffers from high rates of a series of climate-sensitive health burdens. Projected temperature rise (higher in mountainous areas than elsewhere in the world) is likely to increase the probability of Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOF); increases in the geographic range and incidence of vector-borne diseases, particularly malaria and dengue; and increase in the incidence of water borne diseases. With an estimated 2,674 glacial lakes in Bhutan, and 24 considered potentially dangerous, GLOF’s represent a major climate change concern in the country. Major incidents of glacial lake outbursts have been documented 1957, 1960, and 1994. Flash floods and landslides are also common during the monsoon period of June to August.
Vector Borne diseases are becoming more prevalent in Bhutan due to the increasing temperatures. Two types of malaria are prevalent in Bhutan: the more severe Plasmodium falciparum (30-60% of cases) and Plasmodium vivax with over 50% of the population residing in malarial areas. Dengue is an emerging infectious disease in Bhutan. Dengue was first documented in Bhutan in 2004 and is now endemic during the monsoon period.
Diarrhoeal diseases represent a significant cause of morbidity in Bhutan for the last decade and contribute to about 10-15 % of the morbidity cases. Climate change has also influenced water resources due to drying up of water sources or contamination due to flooding, increasing incidences of diarrhoeal disease.
Results and Learning:
This pilot project will provide better information and surveillance of climate change related health risks in Bhutan. Improved data collection will allow the country to monitor and receive early warnings and thus the opportunity to prepare and respond to potential health risks. The project will also provide training and development of tools for health providers to understand the influence of climate change and variability on the transmission of vector borne diseases, extreme weather events and other health issues. To be able to do this effectively the following areas of adaptive capacity have been identified to be particularly targeted by the project:
- Metrological and surveillance data - Bhutan has very limited metrological data and sparsely located metrological stations. There is also very limited surveillance for climate-sensitive health outcomes, resulting in insufficient data and lack of awareness of the possible health impacts of climate change across all government sectors including health.
- Resources - There is a lack of sufficient national capacity in terms of human and financial resources for incorporating climate change risks into all levels of health activities.
- Climate change mainstreamed - National Programs dealing with the climate sensitive diseases like the National Vector borne Disease Control Program (VDCP), ARI and Diarrhoeal Disease programs, Water and Sanitation programs do not currently take climate change into account.
- Improved coordination - A new Environmental Health program has been formed in the Ministry of Health to coordinate and take through the climate and health initiatives.
There are no related resources for this project.
Financing Amount550,000 USD
UNDP Senior Technical Advisor on Climate Change AdaptationUNDPpradeep.firstname.lastname@example.org
Public Health and Environment DepartmentWHOguillemotj@who.int
Department of Public Health Ministry of Health Thimphu BHUTANradadukpa@yahoo.com
WHO In-Country ContactWHOdorjit@searo.who.int
The greatest national benefit envisaged in the implementation of this program will be the enhanced awareness and capacity of health workers and the community at large.