Climate change requires urgent response

Now there is no the slightest doubt that climate change has a negative impact on human health and gene pool of the future generations in direct and indirect way. This has been proved by numerous researches both globally and on the national level. There is no country that can protect itself from such challenges as increase of air temperatures, frequent extreme weather disasters and water deficiency connected with climate change. Threat to human health causes the necessity of developing the national action plan for adaptation and mitigation of climate change impact on population’s health.

 Development of such a plan, national capacity for assessing health impacts of climate change, strengthening of healthcare systems by means of reducing burden of respiratory diseases and improvement of nutrition is the key objectives of the project “Protecting health from climate change” in Uzbekistan. The project is implemented by the Regional Office of the World Health Organization in Europe (WHO ROE) together with ministries of health of Uzbekistan and Karakalpakstan, Uzhydromet, Sanitary and Epidemiological Surveillance and a number of other bodies in Uzbekistan and Karakalpakstan. To finance the project the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety allotted about one million euro.


Why there is an emergency of implementing the project in Uzbekistan? As Dr. Michel Tailhades, head of WHO office in Uzbekistan noted, “WHO wants to raise the interest of the population and government so that they realized the importance of urgent response to the effects of climate change on health. You have more heat waves, dust storms, air pollution and that is the impact on population’s health, and lungs in particular.”


“We are mainly focusing here on analyzing what are the health effects of climate change for Uzbekistan to include health into development of any national strategy on coping with the impact of climate change,” Dr. Bettina Menne, Medical Officer on Global Change and Health, WHO ROE says. “We have chosen the Republic of Karakalpakstan as the pilot area where we are trying to avoid the further impacts on respiratory diseases such as asthma, chronic pulmonary diseases, and children’s respiratory problems. We are trying to do this by strengthening diagnostics and treatment of diseases as well as early warning of dust storms and air quality. Two working groups have been set up in Karakalpakstan –one for nutrition and another for respiratory related problems. We are extremely grateful to the government of Uzbekistan for the support and the willingness of successful implementing this project which we believe is substantially contributing in improving health under a changing climate.”                      


President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov noted in his speech in the meeting of heads of member states of International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea this April in Almaty that complete complex of ecological, socioeconomic and demographic problems on global scale emerged in the Aral Sea region. The government of the republic is actively working on elimination of consequences of the Aral Sea’s dryout and ecological rehabilitation of the Aral Sea basin by means of creating local reservoirs in the dried up bottom of the sea, irrigation of deltaic waterways, rehabilitation of biodiversity, forestation, provision of population with pure potable water, equipping municipal and medical institutions with water decontamination devices and reequipping of diversion stations with chlorinators.


“With the purpose of successful fulfilling all these tasks we need a systemic study of impact of the growing ecological crisis in the Aral Sea region upon the state of health and genepool of population, warning and prevention of wide distribution of different dangerous and specific diseases, establishment of networks of preventive and treating institutions for population,” Karamatdin Abdijaliev, deputy chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Karakalpakstan highlighted. “The project “Protecting health from climate change” is a big help for development of adaptation strategy for people’s health to climate change. Strengthening of local state structures’ capacity for assessment of health impact of climate change, identification of vulnerable population strata and development of assistance strategy is the important part in the work on protecting people. Early warning and early diagnostics of diseases which is the project’s objective will favor reduction of respiratory diseases’ level. Strengthening of air quality monitoring system and early warning of coming dust storms will undoubtedly reduce the exacerbation and occurrence of respiratory diseases. Study and assessment of nutrition of vulnerable population strata is also important thing for taking necessary measures. In order to raise the institutional and civil capacity in effective and competent overcoming problems caused by climate change we need to develop the managerial and human resources’ potential for assessment of possible impact of climate change on people’s health on the national level.”


Actually, the work within the project on protecting human health from climate change started this May in Nukus where the working group of the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Karakalpakstan to introduce the PAL strategy (Practical approach to lung health) was formed. The strategy envisages improving quality of managing respiratory diseases including tuberculosis. Besides, the working group on nutrition was formed as well. The project participants held the enlarged meeting in Tashkent in October where they discussed and specified their further actions.


“We are closely cooperating with the Kyrgyz-Finnish project on strengthening lung health that has been implemented in Bishkek, capital of Kyrgyzstan where the PAL strategy was introduced successfully,” Nina Nizamatdinova, project coordinator in Nukus city says. “Consultants from Bishkek held trainings here within the project and later on our specialists trained in Bishkek as well. It is anticipated to finish the development of the pilot version of the clinical guidelines of PAL by the end of November. After its endorsement in December we are going to hold the first training for 20 general practitioners on introduction of PAL strategy. The feasibility test for the project will be conducted after the training. Later on the plan of expanding the strategy all over the Karakalpakstan will be developed.”


Healthcare systems may play the key role in protection of health from climate change. There are numerous good examples in the European Union showing the ways how healthcare systems assist in managing climate change impact on health.




Uzbekistan is one of seven countries involved in the project “Protecting health from climate change in southeast Europe, Central Asia and the North of Russia”, funded by the German Ministry of the Environment. It is anticipated that the project will allow assessing the current and future impacts of climate change on health, introducing PAL strategy, establishing systems of early warning of dust storms, developing national plan on adaptation and preparedness of healthcare systems and raising the population capacity and awareness about prevention of diseases conditioned by climate change. 


Lyudmila Stayshyunayte {jcomments on}