Despite growing awareness that climate change poses significant risks to human health, the historical role of the health sector in responding to these has been largely reactionary. This is particularly true in the Pacific. In this region, which is vulnerable in several ways, health ministries are hard pressed to formulate cost-effective solutions to reduce the health impacts of climate change in addition to simultaneously strengthening activities to address current health problems.
FSMed is currently engaged in activities for climate change at different levels:
- Medical education and training : Climate change and health issues are now integrated into relevant programmes offered by the Department of Public Health.
- Policy analysis : Academics are partnering with relevant counterparts within the ministries of health and other ministries to identify policy gaps and, where possible, revise and implement policies to support the health sector response to climate change.
- Research : The research activities have focused on interventions for health systems strengthening, early warning and response to climate sensitive diseases, and assessing the environmental health impacts of climate change.
FSMed recognises the health component of climate change projects and as such has encouraged staff to actively participate, where possible, on advisory committees, as well as play lead roles in ensuring that there is sufficient and appropriate guidance (with respect to health) on climate change activities in the region. It is envisaged that the academic institution’s collaborative activities will inform and assist Pacific Island health professionals to implement activities targeted towards reducing the health impacts of climate change in the region.