Climate change making control of infectious diseases like Dengue, Cholera, Malaria etc. extremely difficult – Draft Uttarakhand Health Policy (DSHP) 2020 and State Action Plan on Climate Change (SAPCC) 2014.
Climate change to be more critical for women and children; promote privatization of healthcare, notes DSHP and SAPCC.
Climate change and public health should be two key agendas for the upcoming assembly elections, says SDC Foundation.
Climate change is going to have a deep impact on state’s public health system, noted the new factsheet released by Dehradun based SDC Foundation. The study reviewed the two key policy documents of the state: DSHP and SAPCC. The policy documents raise an official alert on the wide-ranging impacts that climate change can have on Uttarakhand’s fragile health system.
|Climate change issue||Its possible impact on public health|
|Increased rainfall or temperature||It can cause Change in pattern of vector borne infections such as Malaria, Dengue, Diarrohea, Cholera, Chikungunya etc.
It also has the potential to alter the food cycles leading to issues of hunger and malnutrition, resulting in impaired child growth and development.
|Air Pollution||It can give rise to increased incidences of cardiovascular and respiratory related disorders like allergies, heart related diseases, asthma etc.|
|Waste Management and Water Shortage||It can lead to improper sanitation risking the public health at large. Slum populations in urban areas are highly vulnerable to this.|
|Landslides and Flash Floods||They pose a huge threat to physical public health infrastructure like hospitals, clinics, labs, ambulance centres, approach roads etc. especially in remote areas|
Impacts of climate change will be different for different social groups. Women and children remain the most vulnerable. Those living in urban slums will also be exposed to fatal outbreaks, if sanitation and waste management is not proper. Still, the policy documents fail to take them into special consideration and share specific inputs concerning their vulnerability.
Both the documents have suggested a list of recommendations to address the issue of climate change and its impact on public health. These recommendations include deployment of water and air ambulances, strengthening the epidemiological surveillance and outbreak management systems, introducing behavior change oriented communication interventions for the local communities, sustainable management of waste and water etc.
DSHP has also suggested for promoting privatization of healthcare in the state. Policy says to implement PPP model of healthcare, which has struggled to perform well.
“It is high time to look at public health and climate change together. These are two major issues for Uttarakhand and we are not prepared for both these challenges. I also feel that these two issues should get focus in the coming elections from the contesting political parties. They should share their detailed vision on the same”, says Anoop Nautiyal, Founder SDC Foundation. “PPP model for healthcare needs to be looked. We need stronger community centric healthcare models for Uttarakhand as we have in Kerala, Sikkim and in other states”, says Anoop on privatization of public health.
“Climate change is a big challenge for our already fragile health systems. Moreover, we have failed to take into account the experiences of women as they remain on the forefront of climate change and it remains hardest for them to get access to proper healthcare facilities. We need to have smart strategy to build up on both these issues together. They are not separate”, says Rishabh Shrivastava, Lead – Research and Communications.