The World Health Organization estimates that between 2030 and 2050, climate change will each year cause an additional 250,000 deaths worldwide
as a result of malnutrition, malaria, intestinal infections and the direct adverse effects of extremely high temperatures. Unfortunately, the Ukraine is no exception and follows growing global trends in terms of climate change’s negative impact on public health.
Taras Ostapchuk, Public Health Centre.
Ukraine. 2021 © UNDP Ukraine
The country has the Public Health Centre, which derives its mandate from the Ministry of Health and is responsible for protecting and strengthening the population’s health, as well as monitoring and preventing diseases and controlling epidemics.
According to Taras Ostapchuk, the Director of the Public Health Centre’s Department of Laboratory Research, the situation is complicated by the fact that until recently the issue of the impact of climate change had not been included in national, nor in regional policy agendas. This is not surprising considering that even health professionals lack specialized knowledge in this area.
I think we planted the seed for change, and this is very important. We provided health care professionals with tools they can use to monitor regionally what is happening and thus better understand the impact of climate change on public health.
To address this situation, a group of health care experts and representatives from the Kyiv-Mohyla Business School developed with UNDP support an online training course to assess the impact of climate change on public health,
as well as means to introduce sustainable procurement practices for the use of health care products.
Twelve video tutorials were produced to provide general information and facts. They also included specific case studies which demonstrate how to apply various concepts, methods, and tools to mitigate the impact of climate change on the country’s health care system.
The video tutorials also include content about the necessity to apply principles of sustainable procurement of health care commodities, as well as how to use these products in daily practice.
To test the content and to tailor it to specific regional contexts, experts organized a three-day online training for 43 representatives from the 12 regional Public Health Centres and the Ukraine’s Regional Food Safety and Consumer Protection State Service.
In 2019, there was a 4x increase
in weather-related natural disasters in the Ukraine
50x increase in the number of natural disaster victims
when comparing the first six months of 2020 to 2019
10+ Ukrainian regions produced less drinking water
when one compares 2018 to 2017.
Taras says they were surprised to learn that 90 percent of the information provided during the training was new to participants.
“I think we planted the seed for change, and this is very important. We provided health care professionals with tools they can use to monitor regionally what is happening and thus better understand the impact of climate change on public health,” explains Taras. ”As a result of this, we will change existing practices for a more sustainable use and production of health care products.”
Some of the participants have already expressed a desire to create separate units within their regional centres to organise staff training and analyse locally the correlation between the detection of certain diseases and climate change.
The next step would be to initiate discussion about the impact of climate change and its adverse effects on the country’s regions which is where innovative solutions, practical measures and strategies are being developed and implemented.