By Cherelle Jackson
APIA – Samoa today officiated the links between health, agriculture, meterology and climate change towards an effort to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change in the small island country.
“Climate change is now everyones problem, it involves health, foreign affairs, agriculture and even finance, we are now giving them ownership of adaptation plans for Samoa,” said Anne Rasmussen, Principle Climate Change for Samoa.
Rasmussen who is also the Project Manager of the Integrating Climate Change risks into Agriculture and Health Sectors in Samoa (ICCRAHSS) said the linkages between these facets of Samoan society need to be established to ensure an effection adaptation plan.
Samoas adaptation plan will identify ways to assist local communities in reducing the impacts of climate change to their homes and sources of livlihoods.
At the launch of ICCRAHSS today, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ministry of Natural Resources said: “Climate change is a cross cutting issue, if we miss out sectors, it will cost the community.”
According to Tuuú the joining of the Ministries to work together is a fairly new idea, and one that Samoa could set precedence in.
“There is no experiential evidence of this being done before, so it is important that we do it right. The close relationship between meteorology, the agriculture sector and the health sector are integral in the response to climate change impacts, “ Tuuú said.
The aim of ICCRAHSS according to Rasmussen is to bring together data from the joining Ministries so that adaptation programmes are targeted to the most vulnerable areas, and in the right way.
Today, the emphasis was on the link between climate change and health.
Stanley Dean, the Assistant Chief Executive Officer of National Health Services said that climate change should now be seen as a health issue.
“We are lucky that some diseases which are rampant in developing countries such as malaria, are not here yet, however climate change can soon change that, as the mosquito population increases, as water borne diseases become a higher threat,” Dean said.
The ACEO said that if diseases such as typhoid and dengue reach uncontrollable numbers, the health sector is not equipped with the man power and resources to cater for such a time.
“With only 300 nurses and less than a 100 Doctors, we simply cannot deal with such a high threat,” Dean said.
He then proposed that the best way to respond to the possible impact of climate change on health, is to include the community in preventative methods.
“We are now including youth in the villages to respond in cases of emergencies, when it comes to health,” he said.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) noted in 2007 that more than 70,000 deaths were linked to the impacts of climate change world wide.