Health sector joins efforts against climate change
Joining the WHO-led mechanism to deliver climate commitments is part of Vietnam’s efforts to concretize its low carbon emissions goals towards the net-zero strategy by 2050.
Vietnam has joined the World Health Organization (WHO)-led mechanism Alliance for Transformative Action on Climate and Health (ATACH) to help the health system contribute to the country’s target of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
|Associate Professor Dr Nguyen Thi Lien Huong, Vietnam's Vice Minister of Health (R) and Dr Angela Pratt, WHO Vietnam Representative, at the event in Hanoi on October 17. Photo: WHO Vietnam
WHO established the Alliance to assist countries in fulfilling their commitments regarding climate change and health they made at the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26).
The announcement is made in advance of COP28 and on the day of Vietnam’s Health Partnership Meeting, where senior Ministry of Health officials and health partners, brought together by WHO, discussed climate change and health.
Vice Minister of Health, Associate Professor Dr Nguyen Thi Lien Huong said: “Vietnam joined the Alliance for Transformative Action on Climate and Health to demonstrate its desire to exchange and share with other countries around the world and commit to climate change and health initiatives.”
Vietnam’s location and distinct natural conditions make it one of the nations most impacted by climate change. Extreme climate events have become more frequent and intense in recent years, according to data from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.
Globally, every health system is – or will be – affected by climate change, from extreme weather events damaging health facilities and causing injuries to health services treating more people with climate-sensitive diseases such as dengue to patients with respiratory symptoms caused by polluted air.
According to Dr Angela Pratt, WHO Vietnam Representative, it takes high-level national leadership to transform health systems to become climate-resilient and sustainable. So, WHO congratulates Vietnam for joining the Alliance, which will help the country achieve its emissions goals and protect people’s health in an unstable and changing climate.
“Vietnam is to be commended for the strong action it is already taking on climate change and health. For example, the Ministry of Health, with WHO’s support, has been piloting models for climate change-resilient and environmentally sustainable healthcare facilities. This work recognizes that healthcare facilities will be important for achieving net-zero carbon emissions from the health sector,” Dr Pratt said.
Meanwhile, Dr Maria Neira, WHO Director of Environment, Climate Change and Health, congratulated Vietnam for being one of the members of the Alliance, saying that mutual experiences from both Vietnam and the global community are bringing together for resilient, low-carbon communities and health systems.
“The positive message is very clear: if you tackle the causes of climate change, you can obtain enormous health benefits,” she stressed.
WHO will also support the ministry in developing a health sector plan to reduce its own carbon emissions and environmental footprint. Globally, the health sector accounts for 4.6% of harmful greenhouse gas emissions.
|Drought reported in Vietnam. Photo: VNA
The Alliance provides a platform for coordination, knowledge and best practice exchange; networks and access to support and link up to existing initiatives; tackling common challenges; and monitoring global progress. So far, nearly 80 countries and areas have joined.
COP28 will take place from November 30 to December 12. The COP will, for the first time, place a high priority on the requirement for a bold response to the effects of climate change on public health. This will include the first-ever Health Day at a COP, a dedicated health and climate ministerial meeting, and a ministerial declaration on climate and health.
According to Vietnamese scientists, infectious diseases were spreading more widely, and extreme heat, droughts, and floods were linked to higher mortality and hospitalization risks in the country, one of the hardest hit by climate change.
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