The Ministry of Health (MoH) has recognized climate change as a threat to the health sector thus, welcomed an organization data sharing agreement with the Ministry of Climate Change (MoCC) to address citizens’ well being.
The ministries of health and climate change usually do not engage.
With climate change becoming the global threat to all sectors, it prompted the need for health to understand better how changes in weather and climate poses danger to people’s health.
Unusual weather events such as frequent cyclones, extreme rainfall and longer periods of drought affects the environment and people in many ways.
For example, longer heavy rainfalls encourage more breeding of mosquitoes which usually lead to malaria and dengue outbreaks.
Therefore, it is essential health officers understand links between rainfall, temperature and disease outbreaks.
Having access to desirable climate data and products will enable the MoH to understand the trend of various disease patterns and be able to prepare response plan earlier, said the First Political Advisor (PA) of the MOCC, Clifford Bice.
Vanuatu Meteorology and Geohazards Department (VMGD) is the sole organization producing these climate information.
Through the MOU, the MoH will now be able to access desirable data and products from VMGD and vice versa.
The sharing of climate and data has been ongoing for years without any formalizing until recently when the Director General (DG) for the MoCC, Jesse Benjamin and the Director of Public Health, Len Tarivonda, put pen to paper during the National Climate Outlook Forum.
Vanuatu is the first country in the Pacific to link its climate sector with health, said the Climate Prediction Services Coordinator of the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) in Samoa, Sunny Seuseu.
The installation of eight new weather stations in rural communities across Vanuatu supported VMGD to improve its climatic data quality, said Seuseu.
“Its climatic data is of World Meteorology Organization’s (WMO) standard, hence it is applied in other pacific countries,” said the SPREP Representative.
The Forum connecting health and climate could not happen without financial support from the Russian Federation through its Disaster Resilience for Pacific SID (RESPAC), through UNDP.