A health response plan for natural disasters and climate change

Vanuatu now has a plan to guide the Ministry of Health (MoH) to prepare, respond and recover from natural disasters such as cyclones, volcanoes earthquakes and climate change impacts.

The National Health Plan for Disaster Risk Management and Climate Change Adaptation 2021-2025 was launched by the Minister of Health, Silas Bule, in the presence of stakeholders yesterday.

The plan will ensure that the MoH can successfully address immediate and longer-term disaster management challenges face by communities and the country as a whole, said Minister Bule.

”It will support the health and wellbeing of the people of Vanuatu through minimal disruption of the delivery of quality essential health services during and in the aftermath of natural disasters.

”It provides a clear mechanism to coordinate actions between the MoH, the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO), National Disaster Recovery Committee and other ministries, NGOs, donors and private sector partners.”

The plan aligns with the Vanuatu Climate Change DRR Policy 2016-2020, the national cluster system and the people’s Plan, he said.

Director of Policy and Planning Unit of the MoH, Dr Samuel Posikai, said: “We (the MoH) is always one the first responders in times of emergency or natural disasters. This policy will guide to respond when disaster strikes.”

The plan will be communicated to the all level of health care in the country, stakeholders and partners, following its launch yesterday.

Dr Kunyoung Ko as the World Health Organisation (WHO) Country Liaison Officer to Vanuatu commended the ministry for developing this plan.

She assured that WHO will assist with the implementation of the plan through funding allocation and technical support in the event of natural disasters or health emergency.

”Natural disasters are causing damages and injuries and they generate the epidemic of vector-borne diseases such as malaria and diarrheal diseases,” she said.

”We will also continue to join the global and regional advocacy to address the impact of climate change on Vanuatu.

”The real disaster reduction comes with continued capacity building and creation of resilient health system, which will absorb the shock by delivering essential health services during the times of crisis sand protecting long-term investments in health system improvements.”

Dr Kunyoung Ko said the plan is also meaningful in this global health emergency as it sheds light and officialise governance structure of managing natural disasters and leadership of the health minister at the centre of the coordination.