Need to integrate climate change and disaster management with health and nutrition in Bihar
Patna: A state level workshop was organised in Patna on 9th March on Integrating Climate Disasters with Health and Nutrition in Bihar by TARU Consultancy under the Sector Wide Approach to Strengthening Health (SWASTH) programme of Government of Bihar (GoB) and DFID, UK.
The workshop was organised in the backdrop of the efforts being made by the Bihar Technical Assistance Team (BTAST) towards linking health, nutrition and water and sanitation (WATSAN) issues with climate related disasters . For example, Bihar is extremely vulnerable to floods with 15 out of its 37 districts being the worst affected, and the increasing frequency and severity of such natural disasters are being seen as the consequences of climate change.
Experts and policymakers from the field of health, nutrition, water and sanitation, disaster management; State Government officials and members of BTAST attended this workshop. The discussion aimed to identify and address the issue of climate change as an emerging and significant factor contributing to increasing the disease burden because it multiplies traditional risk factors.
Prabhakar Sinha, Director, WASH, BTAST, began the discussion by welcoming the participants and gave an insight into the impact of climate change, especially on the health and nutrition of women and children.
Shyamala Mani from the National Institute of Urban affairs said that climate change is a major threat to the urban areas owing to the high population density and the vulnerability of women and children. She said that climate change not only affects food availability, conservation, access and utilization but also increases the prevalence of diseases from water, food and vectors.
Prakash Kumar, Team Leader, BTAST talked about the initiatives taken under the SWASTH programme on climate disasters and health. He said that though climate change is considered as a distal determinant of public health, it is fast gaining in importance. He also highlighted various limitations to effective implementation of the initiatives in Bihar, due to poverty, gender issues and overall governance challenges.
Anup Sarkar from the State Disaster Management Authority, Bihar and other experts from the State Government reflected on the lack of an effective policy to deal with climate change and its health implications. Sarkar spoke about the initiatives that are being launched in the state to address the issue of climate change and also shared about the design of disaster management plan for all 38 districts of Bihar.
Towards the end of the workshop Dr Nitish Dogra, Sector Adviser (Health & Nutrition) from TARU Consultancy, emphasized the need for a paradigm shift in health planning from the point of vulnerability, climate resilience, disaster preparedness and development of robust climate risk early warning systems.