Lao People’s Democratic Republic pledges to do more for COP 26 Health Programme Initiative

Vientiane Capital|7 October 2021 – Ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) which will take place in Glasgow, Scotland from 31 October to 12 November this year, the Ministry of Health has taken steps to commit to be a part of the COP26 Health Programme Initiative.

Dr Snong Thongsna, Vice Minister to the Ministry of Health said “Lao PDR is highly vulnerable to climate change and its related health risks, including an increase in incidence of water- and vector-borne diseases, and health consequences due to weather conditions like droughts or floods brought about by an increase in number of hot, dry days in the dry season and intense raining during the wet season.

Health has been chosen as a COP26 science priority area. The COP26 Health Programme was established to advocate for stronger health focus and ambition to COP26. The theme for World Health Day for 2022 is 'Protecting Health from Climate Change', putting health at the centre of the global dialogue about climate change.

The Health Programme sets out with two key health priorities for COP26, where countries can state their ambitions to develop climate resilient sustainable health systems by agreeing to build climate resilient health systems and develop low carbon sustainable health systems.

The Ministry of Health on behalf of its health workers committed to strengthen the health system to be resilient from impacts brought about by the changing climate, and the resulting impacts on human health. The health sector also commits to strengthen sustainable and low carbon health system as part of its commitment to the Paris Agreement and commits to reach the global target.

The health sector is a substantial contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, and it accounts for around 4.6% globally. By committing to be a part of the COP26 health programme initiative, this will allow for the health sector to have an opportunity to demonstrate leadership on emission reduction, contribute to national climate targets, build stronger health facility resilience, and directly address the linkages between climate and health.

There is a close synergy between carbon emissions and air pollution, with some health systems making a substantial contribution to local air pollution. Air pollution is the world’s largest environmental health threat.

Dr Thongsana added that “We have been supporting efforts to build a low carbon and environmentally sustainable health system. For example, since the start of 2020, more than 50 low temperature incinerators were replaced by the use of non-combustion technology like autoclaves to treat infectious and sharp medical waste on-site in hospitals.”

Since 2020, the ministry has also been implementing the Safe Clean Climate Resilient Hospital Initiative by expanding the scope and promote low carbon environmentally sustainable technology, green procurement and supply.  There is a plan to develop a Mitigation Plan to support low carbon and environmentally sustainable health system to be completed by the end of June 2022.

This is an important step by the Ministry of Health to begin by developing plans for implementing low-carbon, resilient health care that align their health sectors with the ambition of the Paris Agreement and realize the health benefits and cost-savings of a sustainable, low carbon health system.

Funding for low carbon and sustainable health system will come through the climate change multilateral funding mechanisms such as Green Climate Fund (GCF) and Global Environmental Facility (GEF), and Adaptation Fund (AF).

These commitments will make for substantial and long-term contributions to protect the health of the people of Lao PDR as well as helping to support the targets of the Paris Agreement.




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