Piloting Climate Change Adaptation to Protect Human Health in Uzbekistan
As part of the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNDP, global project on public health adaptation to climate change, the "Piloting Climate Change Adaptation to Protect Human Health in Uzbekistan" is working to pilot adaptation measures in Tashkent and Syrdarya provinces. These efforts are working to increase the adaptation capacity of health care system in the provinces to cope with climate induced diseases.
More specifically, the Uzbekistan project aims to reduce negative impacts of climatic drivers by equipping health care personnel and the wider population with essential tools and knowledge to prevent detrimental effects of climate on human health. Effective prevention will be monitored through the reduction of the risk of morbidity and mortality of acute intestinal, cardio-vascular and respiratory diseases induced by climatic factors.
Uzbekistan is one of seven countries taking part in this Global Pilot. The seven countries, Barbados, Bhutan, China, Fiji, Jordan, Kenya and Uzbekistan, together represent four distinct environments (Highlands, Small Islands, Arid Countries and Urban environments) and their related health risks.
The objective of this first global project on public health adaptation to climate change is to “increase adaptive capacity of national health system institutions, including field practitioners, to respond to climate-sensitive health risks”. This will contribute to the broader goal of ensuring that “Health sectors are able to cope with health risks resulting from climate change, including variability”.
Uzbekistan Project Objective
To pilot adaptation measures in Tashkent and Syrdarya provinces that will increase adaptation capacity of health care system in these provinces to cope with climate induced diseases.
Key Health Concerns and Vulnerability to Climate Change
Uzbekistan will have significant health affects caused by climate change and rising temperatures. Most of the health problems are related to water and its availability. Water Borne diseases play a major role in Uzbekistan's health issues. More than 30% of household's nationwide lack quality drinking water and over 1000 settlements have no potable water at all. The water quality is poor with microbial and chemical pollution due to insufficient infrastructure to treat waste water and purify drinking water. Bacterial pollution increases in warmer temperatures and is reflected in the number of cases of intestinal diseases during summer.
As an example, bacterial dysentery increases by a factor of 3 in the summer. Dust storms are a particular problem for Uzbekistan and water shortages and increasing aridity caused by climate change coupled with land degradation problems have aggravated the desertification processes. As a major consequence, this has resulted in an increased number of dust storm events. Excessive exposure to dust constitutes a major health risk for many parts of the country already. For instance, Karakalpakstan exceeds the maximum safe threshold of the concentration of total suspension particles (TSP) by more than a factor of 2. Winds transport the sand particles for long distances extending the geographic boundaries affected by this phenomenon and over 5.5 million people have become increasingly affected by the dust storms.
Results and Learning
The project aims to reduce negative impacts of climatic drivers on health by equipping health care personnel and the wider population with essential tools and knowledge to prevent the detrimental effects of climate on human health. The effective prevention will be monitored through the reduction of the risk of morbidity and mortality of acute intestinal, cardio-vascular and respiratory diseases induced by climatic factors. It will achieve this by addressing the following barriers:
- Knowledge - Health care system personnel are not fully aware of the relationship between climate change and variability and health impacts. There has been no specific training of the personnel in regard to adaptation to climate change and mitigating its negative health impacts.
- Capacity - The level of knowledge and skills to prevent diseases connected with climatic factors are also limited among the general population.
- Monitoring and surveillance - The climate and health monitoring and surveillance systems are not conducted at the right geographical and temporal scale that would allow observations of trends and make advance forecasts to direct interventions against climate sensitive diseases.
- Research - No mechanisms currently exist to give early warning to the health system and undertake preventive measures. No research is currently conducted to observe the trends and the health system does not have clearly developed indicators that would give a chance to react. Thus no early warning system has been developed.
Key Results and Outputs
The most significant benefit expected from this project is the reduced number of acute intestinal, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases that are induced by climate change. Other benefits include:
- Improved general health of the national population and through this will contribute to the human development in Uzbekistan.
- Increased knowledge and skills to monitor variations in climate and make preventive steps in order to minimize possible detrimental effects on human health.
- The public will have enhanced knowledge on how to protect themselves against diseases that can be triggered by climate factors.
- People would be equipped with the concrete instruments to cope with climate variability and change.
- The Government will benefit from healthier and more economically active population and fewer social payments to disabled (sick) people.
- Climate change and health early warning and planning systems
- Institutional and technical capacity to manage climate change health risks
- Demonstration Measures to reduce vulnerability
- Regional Cooperation to address climate change health risks
Outcome 1: An early warning system that provides reliable information on likely incidence of climate-sensitive health risks established
- Cooperation agreement on information flow sharing between governmental agencies is reached.
- Computer-based information system established to share climate change and health information to Government decision makers in the two pilot states.
- An early warning system of potential health impacts of climate events on vulnerable groups will be designed and tested.
- Contingency plans for health care system developed in the event of adverse climate variation.
Outcome 2: Skills and knowledge of health care personnel to cope with climate sensitive diseases enhanced and awareness of the population to take self-preventive measures for climate-induced diseases are increased
- Capacity building training programs for medical personnel and primary care workers on the relationship between diseases and climate developed and introduced.
- Increased awareness raising to the local population in the health risks associated with climate change and how to take self-preventive measures against climate sensitive diseases.
Outcome 3: Action plans to address climate sensitive diseases successfully implemented within the 2 study provinces
- Intervention plans for climate-sensitive health outcomes implemented within the study regions.
- Effectiveness of interventions will be monitored.
Reports and Publications
Monitoring and Evaluation
Project activities will be executed following established UNDP national execution modality (NEF). The Ministry of Health will act as the Executing Agency (EA) for the project and will be executing the project in cooperation with WHO and UNDP-GEF. The project will establish a Project Implementation Unit (PIU) which will consist of the Project Manager (PM), and an administrative/finance assistant. National consultants will be recruited upon necessity according to an established plan of activities developed by the PM.