ADB project helps boost climate resilience in Vietnam’s health system hinh anh 1A doctor gives health examination to a woman in a mountainous area of Vietnam (Photo: VNA)
Hanoi (VNA) – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) announced on July 19 its assessment of a six-year project helping boost the capacity of health systems in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam to climate-induced health threats.

The project, Strengthening Resilience to Climate Change in the Health Sector in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS), was approved in 2015 with a 4.4 million USD grant from the Nordic Development Fund and counterpart financing from the three governments.

It was ADB’s first initiative in Southeast Asia to improve government responses to climate change’s impacts on health care. It helped the three countries adopt national health adaptation plans to address weather-related health risks, including heat and communicable diseases such as dengue, malaria, heat stress, and diarrhea.

The project was implemented by the Preventive Medicine Department of Cambodia, the Department of Hygiene and Health Promotion of Laos, and the Health Environment Management Agency of Vietnam.

In its news release, ADB said that in all, the project completed detailed vulnerability and adaptation assessments for 14 high-risk provinces in those countries and trained more than 1,300 health sector staff on climate change and health adaptation.

In addition, more than 600 policy makers from the public and private sectors participated in high-level advocacy meetings and workshops focused on national health adaptation strategies and the coordination of disease surveillance and responses, among others.

The project also helped the three governments identify cost-effective investments to reduce mortality and morbidity caused by diseases related to climate change. They included establishing early heat warning systems and upgrading health facilities to be more climate resilient, especially in remote, underserved communities.

In particular, it improved timely data gathering for governments to monitor the impact of climate change on public health, tools such as a database, a modeling approach, and a digital atlas. The project also trained national and provincial health staff on surveillance systems for climate-sensitive diseases, the analysis of epidemiology data, and health challenges unique to women, children, and other vulnerable groups.

“The project has helped reduce Cambodia, the Lao PDR, and Vietnam’s vulnerability to climate-induced health threats, especially among vulnerable populations, including the poor, migrants, and ethnic minorities,” said ADB Director of Human and Social Development for Southeast Asia Ayako Inagaki.

ADB Country Director for Vietnam Andrew Jeffries noted: “The health national adaptation plan and surveillance systems supported by this project will help Vietnam mitigate climate change’s health and economic impacts amid the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The bank added that the governments of Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam recognise that climate change is a major threat to their sustainable economic development. All three had approved strategic plans for public health as part of their national strategic plans on climate change./.