“… we need robust scientific evidence to guide policy, assess the effectiveness of current commitments, and protect health around the world. We owe that to the future generation.”
These are the words of Professor Volker ter Meulen, President of the InterAcademy Partnership and Past President of the German National Academy of Sciences, Leopoldina during the launch of the Climate Change and Health Project.
Climate change is a global phenomenon that affects all countries. In view of the different climate experienced by Asia, countries on that continent needs to be prepared in facing climate change with strategies and solutions that are unique and better suited to their own region.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), climate change is expected to cause approximately 250,000 additional deaths per year between 2030 and 2050 due to heat stress, malaria, diarrhoea and malnutrition. Although this problem will affect health systems worldwide, areas that will be most affected are those that have weak health infrastructure, such as developing countries. Some of the effects of climate change that will be affecting human health and health systems include extreme, natural disasters, as well as waterborne and infectious diseases.
In response to addressing the urgency of climate change and its effects on the health of the Asian region, the first Regional Meeting of the Association of Academies and Societies in Asia (AASSA) Working Group on Climate Change and Health was held from 24 to 25 February in Kuala Lumpur.
Professor Yoo Hang Kim, President of AASSA, was in attendance to provide a brief introduction on AASSA and shared his experience of the former InterAcademy Panel (IAP) Project.
Also at this Workshop, Dr Robin Fears, Director cum IAP Coordinator from the European Academies’ Science Advisory Council (EASAC) Biosciences Programme shared his experience in Europe’s Study on Climate Change and Health.
The Workshop also featured a session of reporting on the state of climate change covering the mitigation, adaptability and country policies by representatives from several countries:
- Australia: Professor Anthony Capon
- India: Dr Shabana Khan
- Indonesia: Professor Dr Sofia Mubarika Haryana
- Malaysia: Professor Dr Jamal Hisham Hashim
- New Zealand: Professor Alistair Woodward
- Nepal: Dr Megnath Dhimal
- Pakistan: Professor Dr Mohammed Perwaiz Iqbal
- Russia: Professor Victor Bogatov
- Turkey: Professor Ismail Koyuncu
Following the briefing (elaborated below) and the experience sharing session, a breakout session was conducted to fortify the four aspects of the project: Mitigation, Adaptability, Policy and The Health System.
President Elect of AASSA and Project Leader of the AASSA Working Group on Climate Change & Health, Academician Professor Dato’ Dr Khairul Anuar Abdullah presented the briefing on the AASSA on Climate Change and Health project.
The objectives of this project are:
- To analyse the respective situation on climate change.
- To produce science-based recommendations for the region.
- To highlight the similarities and differences and providing advice on Climate Change & Health for global, regional and national level implementation.
The Asia Report on Climate Change & Health would include the various Asian regions, including East Asia, Northern Asia, Southeast Asia, Southwest Asia, West Asia, South Asia and Oceania.
Professor Dato’ Dr Khairul also briefly presented on the history of the study on Climate Change and Health. The study started in 2019, with the first meeting on Climate Change and Health held in Germany from 4 to 5 November 2019. The Climate Change & Health Project here was led by IAP, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Health.
The Climate Change & Health Project is slated to be completed in early 2021, and is carried out in four phases: