PUTRAJAYA, Sept 24 — The Health Ministry plans to deal with the effect of climate change on health by narrowing down the area of focus to tackle the problem and by strengthening ties between various stakeholders.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad said 11 areas of focus have been identified to deal with the challenges of climate change, with the establishment of a Thematic Working Group (TWG) for each area to foster better working relations among all those involved.
“Climate change can cause physical damage to a nation in the form of typhoons, floods, drought and the spread of diseases. This can adversely affect the amount of rainfall, damages the ecosystem, threatens our health and economy and disrupts our daily routine.
“NEHAP is a national level method of planning and implementing comprehensive and holistic actions with regard to the health of our environment and how we can overcome issues that come with climate change,” said Dzulkefly referring to National Environmental Health Action Plan (NAHEP) which was launched in Putrajaya today.
He said through NEHAP, the ministry hopes to strengthen the cooperation between various sectors to deal with the challenges posed by climate change and educate the public at the grassroots level on the dangers of climate change.
The 11 areas of focus are: air quality, water and sewage system, solid waste, hazardous waste management, climate change, contingency readiness and environmental emergency plans, health impact assessment, information technology, urban drainage, environmental health experts and vector-borne diseases (dengue, malaria).
He said the TWG for each of these sectors is tasked with finding ways of identifying threats to the environment, formulating strategies to overcome the issue and determining what roles the various agencies should play.
Dzulkefly hoped that each agency can contribute and work better towards making the environment healthier for Malaysian’s with better cooperation through the TWG.
Apart from that, Dzulkefly said one of the most important aspects of the NEHAP is educating the public on climate change and its effects.
He said currently the level of awareness on climate change among the people is limited.
He outlined several steps that can be adhered to like lowering the use of electricity in households, teaching kids the effects of global warming and the importance of looking after their surroundings, planting more trees as sources of oxygen, recycling and helping the government to identify those who are breaking the law.
“Human activities are changing the composition of the earth’s atmosphere and are contributing to climate change like global warming. Hence it is wise of us to educate the people around the world to appreciate our environment even more now.
“This has to be adopted by the entire community and all walks of life if we want to preserve the future for the next generation. One of the ways to ensure this is a reality is through the NEHAP however this can only be achieved with everyone’s cooperation,” said Dzulkefly.
“Environmental protection and public health goals are in general replenishing each other. Close collaboration between these two sectors is crucial for effective environmental health management.”
Environmental Health is the branch of public health that is concerned with all aspects of the natural and built environment that may affect human health. The term environmental health, as defined by the World Health Organisation addresses all the physical, chemical, and biological factors external to a person, and all the related factors impacting behaviours.