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W.H.O. considers health impact of climate change

The World Health Organisation (W.H.O.) is taking a serious step in addressing the impacts of climate change on health in the Pacific region. 

W.H.O. representative in Samoa, Dr. Rasul Baghirov, said three key areas highlighted by the new regional director Takeshi Kasai are related and important to Samoa. 

Dr. Rasul said the unfinished agenda of non-communicable diseases, relatively new climate change threat to health, and disaster preparedness and resilience, is what are relevant to Samoa. 

Climate change and impact on health has emerged because of the very loud voices from the Pacific about climate change, of course it’s not new to us and this part of the world, said Dr. Rasul. 

“Climate change and how it affects health and that is a major concern for Pacific Island countries, and he (Takeshi) embraced it as one of his big priorities. 

“Priorities are the new allocated resources, the financial and human to address the issue. So far, that area was recognised but was not really funded the way that it should. And of course this is just the beginning to see more funding, more work in that particular area and the effect of climate change on health.”

He explained diabetes, heart diseases, obesity, kidney diseases are diseases not caused by infections or viruses but by how people live, eat, and move. 

“The statistics show that these are still quite high in Samoa.” 

Dr. Rasul said disaster preparedness and building resilience in the community, is the focus again and expect it to be bold in the next five years for the region. 

“Problem of outdoor pollution is not really a problem in Samoa, but this is quite dangerous when people start to burn plastics, tyres because they contain chemicals and are very detrimental to health, so if you breathe it too often you become exposed to health risks.”

Dr. Rasul also said W.H.O. hopes the merge between the Ministry of Health and the National Health Services will bring about better coordination with the different sectors. 

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