On 6 September 2022, the “Are ASEAN Health Systems Prepared for Climate-Related Health Threats?” Webinar was organised under the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community Research and Development Platform Programme with support from the Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund (JAIF). This webinar is a part of the Public Health Emergencies Webinar Series under the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) Research and Development Platform Programme emphasizes and calls the attention to the importance of enhancing understanding on climate-related health threats on ASEAN health systems, and benefit ASCC sectoral bodies in further developing and implementing their public health-related initiatives through evidence-based research and insight.
Deputy Secretary-General, in his opening remarks, emphasized on the impacts of climate change to human health survival as it affects our basic needs. He also stated that AMS are susceptible to climate events and that we need to enhance the system and contribute to sustainable development.
The first session of the webinar discussed the topic of strengthening foresight on trends and challenges of climate change on regional health security. Speakers for this session were Mr. Sum Cheat (Ministry of Environment Cambodia), Dr. Rasheed Hussain, Dr. Anbumozhi Venkatachalam (Director of Research Strategy and Innovation ERIA), Mr. Sridhar Dharmapuri (Module Leader FAO ROAP Thailand), Ms. Cherie Gray (Swiss Re) and Prof. Virginia Murray (UK Health Security Agency).
Mr Cheat stated that ASEAN is one of the regions most vulnerable to climate change impacts. Four of the ASEAN Member States were in the top 10 most affected by extreme climate events during 1999 - 2018. In accordance, Dr Hussain mentioned that climate change impacts from air pollution to health infrastructure and supply chain. To add, Mr Dharmapuri also mentioned that the solution therefore is not a single sector solution. “We need more science and evidence to implement solutions on these issues, thus we need holistic solutions involving different sectors to work together”, he said.
In session two of the webinar, Dr Thahilrahtul Asma' Zakaria (Ministry of Health Malaysia), Dr Burin Suraaroonsamrit, MD (Ministry of Public Health Thailand), Prof. drh. Roostita L Balia, M.App.Sc (Universitas Padjajaran, Indonesia), Prof Emily Ying Yang Chan (Chinese University of Hong Kong), Dr Narumol Sawanpanyalert (Ministry of Public Health Thailand), Dr Gyanendra Gongal (WHO SEARO, India), Ms Cherie Tan (Asia Pacific Bayer Crop Science, Singapore), and Dr Ronald Law (Department of Health, the Philippines) discussed and shared their insights on strategies to establish a sustainable and climate resilient health system as a response to climate change threats.
In closing, Bony Wiem Lestari, MD., MSc., as the representative of the project’s advisor team, Resilience Development Initiative Indonesia (RDI), highlighted the initiatives established by AMS to achieve a resilient and sustainable health system, including integrating mental health services into disaster health management in Thailand and various sustainable and resilient hospitals in the ASEAN Member States. The establishment of the ASEAN Working Group on Climate Change and various joint statements and initiatives also reaffirm the region’s commitment to addressing climate change’s adverse impacts.