The government is looking into measures that will will make the Philippine health sector climate-smart.
There is urgency for such measures as the sector is both driver of and threatened by climate change, said Climate Change Commission (CCC) Vice-Chairperson Emmanuel de Guzman.
“Climate change is a health concern,” he said on Monday at a forum in Metro Manila during CCC’s 2017 observation of the annual Climate Change Consciousness Week (CCCW).
He added the health sector’s energy use and other activities, including those in hospitals, are contributing to climate change-driving greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions so interventions are needed to mitigate the discharges while adapting to the changing climate.
Climate change can negate and derail health development advances the sector made over the years, de Guzman added.
“The health sector should really go green,” he said.
CCC green hospital project consultant Linda Milan acknowledged the need for a climate-smart Philippine health sector.
“A ruined planet can’t sustain life so the health sector must change perspective and not remain stagnant,” she said at the forum.
She added that since technical experts and funds for such purpose are available, the sector must look into what adaptation and mitigation measures to prioritize for its bid to be climate-smart.
Philippine Hospital Association (PHA) president Huberto Lapuz assured his group’s support for such a bid.
“PHA is committed to proactively search for climate-smart solutions within its network,” he said at the forum.
He said PHA is also prepared to work with CCC and other stakeholders concerned on promoting sustainability.
“With unbridled climate change, human survival is at stake, for the most part beginning and ending in portals of our hospitals,” he said.
Proclamation 1667 series of 2008 designated November 19 to 25, 2008 and every year thereafter as “Global Warming and CCCW.”
Climate change’s threats require “urgent and thoughtful participation of our citizens as well as the collective action of private and public sectors at all levels,” Proclamation 1667 stated.
The proclamation enjoins all government units to observe CCCW by conducting activities relevant to this occasion.
Climate change impact on the Philippines
Climate change’s impacts on the Philippines are increasing the onslaught of extreme weather events as well as sea level and temperature rise, according to experts.
The Paris Agreement aims to strengthen worldwide response to climate change by keeping global temperature rise this century well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts for limiting temperature increase even further to 1.5°C.
In a 2015 report on the Philippines, however, the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) said mean annual temperature can rise by about 3.7°C on average from 1990 to 2100 under a high GHG emissions scenario.
Without significant climate change adaptation investments and under a high emissions scenario, WHO and UNFCCC warned an average 983,700 people may be affected annually by flooding from sea level rise between 2070 and 2100.
Under a high emissions scenario, WHO and UNFCCC also warned heat-related deaths in persons aged 65 years and over may increase to about 31 deaths per 100,000 population by 2080.
The estimated baseline is one death per 100,000 population annually between 1961 and 1990, WHO and UNFCCC noted.
“Rapid reduction in emissions could limit heat-related deaths in the elderly to about five deaths per 100,000 in 2080,” both clarified, however.