Photo used for illustrative purpose.
The UAE’s Ministry of Health and Prevention, in cooperation with Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, on Friday reiterated that the country is dedicated to developing a health system resilient to the impacts of climate change.
The announcement comes in advance of the 2021 Global Conference on Health & Climate Change, being organised by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the Global Climate and Health Alliance and other partners, and on the sidelines of the UN Climate Change Conference COP26 in Glasgow, UK, in November.
It responds to the call from the COP26 Presidency, currently held by the United Kingdom, to adopt initiatives towards building an environmentally sustainable health sector.
The announcement draws on the critical steps being taken by the UAE on climate and health. It also follows the nation’s offer to host COP28 in 2023 with a focus on making it as inclusive and action-oriented as possible. The nation adopts a holistic approach towards climate action and aims to help create a robust ecosystem that interlinks all key sectors, including healthcare, given the importance of climate on human wellness.
In 2019, the UAE undertook a national climate risk assessment for the health sector as well as launched the UAE National Framework for Action on Climate Change and Health 2019-2021 in partnership with WHO.
Under the Framework, the UAE National Committee on Climate Change and Health is currently coordinating the development of a sector-specific adaptation plan. The UAE is committed to updating the climate and health vulnerability and adaptation (V&A) assessment on a regular basis and ensuring that the findings continue to inform health policies and programmes.
Notably, the UAE will seek to strengthen its response measures as heat stress grows in an already hot and humid desert climate. Currently, the UAE offers a stipulated mid-day break to outdoor workers during peak summer months. The Abu Dhabi government has also introduced a ‘Safety in Heat’ programme that aims at reducing heat exposure at the workplace.
In addition to adapting the health sector, the UAE is also working towards reducing emissions from the health sector. The country is looking to carry out an assessment of baseline emissions covering supply chains, and develop an action plan for a low-carbon health system in line with national climate mitigation targets and Paris Agreement goals. UAE’s emission reduction efforts in the health sector and beyond are expected to yield air quality improvements and related public health co-benefits, thus offering win-win solutions for health and climate.
The steps the UAE is taking to develop the national health system, and prepare it for imminent and long-term climate impacts, will enhance its resilience and effectiveness in face of any future crises.WAM
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