Climate change affects the health of population in Tajikistan: WHO presents the final results of a pilot project

Report
from World Health Organization
Published on 07 Feb 2013 View Original
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Dushanbe, 7 February 2013

According to the latest findings of the vulnerability assessment of the population of Tajikistan, climate change is already affecting health. This is the main finding of a four-year pilot project conducted by the WHO Regional Office for Europe and funded by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU), to protect health from climate change in the country. To mark the successful completion of the project, the working group members from the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Emergency Situations, and the Committee of Environment Protection of Tajikistan present the main conclusions today jointly with WHO Regional office for Europe.

“It is now proven that Tajikistan is exposed to natural disasters and extreme weather events, such as earthquakes, landslides and floods. This new knowledge underpins the need to improve the national health care system’s capacity and to respond to environment-related emergencies. Though this action, we can significantly support and enhance strengthening the country’s health system by means of reducing climate-related diseases and health consequences” – says Dr Pavel Ursu, WHO Representative/Head of WHO Country Office in Tajikistan.

Main findings of the vulnerability and impact assessment of climate change in Tajikistan

The average annual air temperature in Tajikistan has increased by 0.7–1.2°C during the 20th Century, and is projected to increase 1.8–2.9°C by 2050. The number of days with extremely hot weather has doubled since 1940. And continues to increase.

Over the past 45 years, the number of rainy days has decreased but the number of days with intense precipitation has increased. Expected desiccation of water resources could cause the farming industry in Central Asia to fall by 15–50%.

Rates of gastro-intestinal infections, for example salmonella, are projected to increase due to increasing temperature and flood-related water contamination.

Economic losses due to extreme natural events, namely floods and mudslides, are increasing.

The National Climate Change and Health Adaptation Strategy and Action Plan of Tajikistan

Under the framework of the seven country project “Protecting health from climate change”, a special working group was convened to conduct an evaluation of vulnerability of and climate change health impacts on the population of Tajikistan. This assessment also formed part of the development of the cross-cutting National Climate Change and Health Adaptation Strategy and Action Plan of Tajikistan which tackles issues such as water resources, agriculture, emergency situations, respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, infectious diseases, water-borne diseases, reproductive health and tropical diseases.

In the climate change framework, the project implemented several water safety plans, namely at pilot sites in Hamadoni and Panjakent regions, and in Rudaki Central District Hospital. Water safety plans (WSPs) are an effective means of ensuring that water safety is controlled within water supplies through systematic and detailed assessment and prioritization of hazards and hazardous events in the water supply chain.

An assessment of the food security situation and nutrition in Tajikistan found that food prices are expected to increase and that fuel prices and imported wheat prices remain high and are not expected to decrease with the onset of the autumn cultivation season. Remittances will continue to be an important determinant for household food security and climate-related changes in crop yields are critical for people in the most food insecure areas.

Next steps

The National Climate Change and Health Adaptation Strategy is undergoing final approval from the Ministry of Health to ensure that the Government of Tajikistan endorses full implementation of the measures needed to adapt to climate change. These measures focus on protecting health from extreme weather events, improving and strengthening the public health system infrastructure, enhancing surveillance and early-warning systems and raising awareness among the population.

As a next step, the WHO Regional Office for Europe will be working with the Government of Tajikistan in highlighting the health effects of climate change in the country to ensure that healthy adaptation is undertaken. Finally, to ensure continuity of the vast amount of work achieved, financial support will need to be sought.

More information:

Protecting health from climate change in Tajikistan http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/132951/Protecting_he...

Climate change a national strategy development in Tajikistan http://www.euro.who.int/en/what-we-do/health-topics/environment-and-heal...

Workshop on climate change and health vulnerability in Tajikistan http://www.euro.who.int/en/what-we-do/health-topics/environment-and-heal...

Water safety in Tajikistan http://www.euro.who.int/en/where-we-work/member-states/tajikistan/news/n...

Dr Pavel Ursu

WHO Representative to the Republic of Tajikistan

WHO Country Office, Tajikistan

UN House 2 “VEFA Center” 37/1

Bokhtar st., 734019 Dushanbe, Tajikistan

Tel.: +992 48 7011472; Fax: +992 48 7011484 E-mail: urp@euro.who.int

Takhmina Alimamedova

Communication Assistant

WHO Country Office, Tajikistan

UN House 2 “VEFA Center” 37/1

Bokhtar st., 734019 Dushanbe, Tajikistan Tel.: +992 907 78 01 19 E-mail: tal@euro.who.int