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PIA Press Release
2010/09/16

DOH-I alarmed over increasing climate-related health risks

By Jennilyne C. Role

San Fernando City, La Union (16 September) -- The Department of Health (DOH) Regional Office I is alarmed over increasing climate-related health risks as a result of the continuing change in climate.

The DOH convened various stakeholders in a one-day Multi-Sectoral Forum on Climate Change for Health held at Oasis Country Resort and Hotel, this city, yesterday and discussed vital interventions to address the issue.

Dr. Cecile Gatan-Magturo, Focal Person for Climate Change of the National Center for Disease Prevention and Control of the DOH, in her presentation, discussed climate change and its linkage to health, along with the different disease that can be acquired from the worsening global warming.

Magturo pointed out that the intense heat waves causes heat stress among extreme ages, particularly those who are involved in athletic activities and the people with respiratory diseases.

Increase in ground-level ozone, airborne allergens and other pollutants can trigger respiratory disease exacerbations to include COPD, asthma, allergic rhinitis and bronchitis which are most often suffered by the elderly, children and those suffering from respiratory illness.

Vector-borne disease like dengue; water-borne diseases to include cholera, typhoid fever, bacillary dysentery, infectious hepatitis, amoebic dysentery; water-based disease such as leptospirosis and schistosomiasis; and food-acquired diseases can be the results of the aftermath of climate change which are drought, floods and the increased mean temperature.

Injuries, drowning, water and soil salinization, ecosystem and economic disruption are possible health-related risk in times of extreme weather events like rain, hurricane, tornado, flooding and sea-level rise).

Drought and ecosystem migration can result to food and water shortages that can eventually lead to malnutrition to low-income families, particularly affecting children and elderly.

Climate change generally, can cause mental health among the youth, displaced individuals, agricultural sectors and low-income families during extreme events.

Based on DOH records, among the human major killers yearly that are climate sensitive diseases include undernutrition that kills 3.7 million, diarrhea that kills 1.8 million and malaria that kills 1.1 million nationwide.

To address the many issues and gaps along increasing climate-related health risks, the DOH committed various steps towards climate change adaptation.

Strategies and action plans to incorporate climate change into existing policies and programs will be develop and implemented and support to LGU-based and other community-based climate change adaptations will be extended.

DOH will likewise facilitate health sector participation to the United Framework Convention on Climate Change and encourage inclusion of health issues in the negotiation process.

The DOH also committed to participate and be a member to ensure the support for preventive environmental health agenda with the ultimate goal of promoting human health and safety.

Moreover, the DOH will be injecting public health approach primarily to serve as credible source of information wherein tracking of data on environmental conditions, disease risks and disease occurrence related to climate change will be done.

Locations and population groups at greater risk for specific health threats will also be identified and promote workforce development by helping to ensure the training of a new generation of competent, experienced public health staff.

Partnership with other government agencies, private sectors, academe and non-government organizations will also be tapped to ensure wider coverage of support and action. (PIA Region 1/La Union) [top]

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