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Countries experience in health and climate collaboration

THE Disaster Resilience in the Pacific SIDS (RESPAC) began its week long workshop yesterday.

The UNDP project is focused on enhancing climate systems, preparing countries in terms of disaster recovery, improving stakeholder coordination, increasing assets collateral and reducing risk for livelihoods and economy.

Participants at the workshop included representatives from Samoa, Fiji, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands.

The presentations were based on their country experiences in the case of health and climate collaboration.

Fiji representative and the acting principal scientific officer from Fiji Met Services Mr Bipendra Prakash spoke on Fiji’s experience in health and climate collaboration.

He said the climate data project began in 2010 and four rural sub division areas namely; Ba, Bua, Lautoka and Suva were chosen for the project.

Mr Prakash said that the risk index for dengue leptospirosis and diarrhoea in Ba and Suva were modelled.

In addition, he said that diarrhoea in Ba, and leptospirosis and diarrhoea in Suva were usefully analysed.

Mr Prakash mentioned that Fiji is still working on their EWs (early warning system).

“Not that we don’t have a EWs, we are still working on it,” he said.

In his presentation, he concluded that Fiji will involve first class experts in developing their EWs but will also have a close collaboration with locals and have training on analysing weather and climate data.

Mr Prakash added that there are also looking at accessing their healthcare facilities in a manner that it is accessed according to an appropriate adaptation strategy.

He said that lessons learnt from the project was that health professionals had limited knowledge of climate change before the project.

Another thing they learned from their project is that the programme primarily focuses on the health risk of current climate vulnerability.

Therefore Mr Prakash said that a further project should consider long term climate change.

Samoa’s presentation focused on their experience on the collaboration between their Met office and Ministry of health.

The project began in 2009 themed “Integrated Climate Change Risks in Agriculture and Health Sector”.

Ms Victoria Ieremia Faasili and Mr Tile Tofeano discussed the health component and CLEWS (Climate early warning system) of the project.

They mentioned that PATIS (Patient Information system) and surveillance data was used to collect data as part of the health component.

They also said that there are three components of CEWS (climate early warning system) which are good observation network, good database system and climate services.

An interesting piece mentioned about the database system is that they hired university students to manually enter data into the database.

The Met division involves identifying and developing data and gathering tools. There is also the surveillance staff, lab technicians and IT specialists.

Their MNRE (ministry of natural resources and environment) uses SCOPIC, CliDE, CliDEsc, Excel and model output for their data and the MOH (ministry of health) uses PATIS (patient information system), Microsoft access and GIS (geographical information system).

The Samoan representatives said that the outcomes of the project included public health workers having increased knowledge on climate adaptation measures on health, a strengthened collaboration with the Met office and strengthened work relations between MNRE and MOH as well as the development of climate adaptation strategies for health.

Lastly, the project produced the establishment of CLEWS, GIS map and the strengthening of the public health workers capacity in reducing impacts of climate change on public health.

The third presentation delivered was from Vanuatu’s National Malaria Monitoring and Evaluation/Surveillance officer Mr Johnny Nausien.

Mr Nausien said that Vanuatu’s framework for climate services shows disasters and climate data.

In addition, he said that there are currently three platforms available.

Mr Nausien elaborated onto the context of data from their progress update on their health and climate collaboration.

He said that in terms of data storage there are eighty rainfall collectors, seven observation sites and data is stored in CliDE, Scopic, Excel sheets and CliDEsc.

Mr Nausien also said that health data was collected from three hundred and sixteen hospitals, health care centres, dispensaries and aid posts.

He mentioned that data is manually collected and this has been a practise for many years thus they still manually collect and enter data.

Speaking of the progressive update of this collaboration, Mr Nausien said that at the moment climate data has been transferred to CliDEsc and health data is stored in VANPHIS 2 database.

He said that they are trying to focus on monthly average rainfall so as to compare it with malaria transmission.

Mr Nausien stated that what they learned from this collaboration is that they need a MOU with sectors for data sharing and an automatic transfer of data from rural areas directly into the database would be the next step.

The last presentation was from Solomon Islands with the topic “Linking climate and malaria in SI”.

The Solomon Islands presentation was about how rainfall interrelates with malaria transmission.

There are also other factors related to malaria transmission but rainfall stands out as a major factor in predicting climate affiliation with the predicted times of high or low transmission of the sickness.

The Solomon Islands presenter mentioned the Solomon Islands MalaClim Rainfall Watch Bulletin.

This rainfall watch bulletin is from the Solomon Islands meteorology service and produced based on the monthly rainfall tracking from October to December last year for this year’s forecasts.

It is done annually as an early warning system (EWs) for malaria transmission risk on north Guadalcanal using the MalaClim model.

The bulletin depicts red coloured index labelled “LOWER” with the figure of 370 and a yellow coloured index labelled “UPPER” with the figure of 540. It is measures in millimetres (mm) and represents the rainfall thresholds in mm from October to December 2016.

The director of Vector Borne Disease Control Programme from the Ministry of Health, Mr Albino Bobogare explained the above.

He said that if rainfall is 370 or less in the red index this means that there is a high risk for malaria transmission.

On the other hand, Mr Bobogare said that if rainfall is 540mm or more that we are expecting less risk of malaria transmission thus high rainfall.

All presentations allowed the participants to learn from each other on areas essential to the focus of disaster resilience in their respective countries.

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