Climate change is a global phenomenon with effects on multiple sectors and hence, is considered a defining issue of our time. Climate change and climate change impacts have serious impacts on health, including but not limited to dehydration, increased incidence of water and vector-borne disease (VBD), malnutrition related to reduced crop yields, and physical and psychological effects of extreme events. In vulnerable countries where health systems are not able to plan prepare for or respond to these challenges, the impacts can be particularly devastating.
Nepal is one of the climate change prone countries in the world. According to Climate Change Atlas 2010 Nepal is ranked fourth most vulnerable country to global climate change, despite its negligible emission of global greenhouse gases. Nepal’s green house gas emission is 0.027 percent of the total global emission which is very low. National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA) to Climate Change (2010) has identified public health as one of the most vulnerable sectors to the negative effects of climate change. Epidemics relating, such as cholera, gastroenteritis, diarrhea, encephalitis, meningitis, typhoid, jaundice, kala-azar, malaria, dengue, chikungunya and scrub typhus are exacerbated with warmer temperatures and flooding during the monsoon season, as well as lack of clean water and sanitation.
Nepal is vulnerable to climate change and like in many least developing countries (LDC) existing health systems are not adequately able to plan, prepare for, and respond to those challenges. The Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) of Nepal prepared Health National Adaptation Plan (H-NAP) Climate Change Health Adaptation Strategies and Action Plans of Nepal (2017-2022) and is implementing it to address those issues.
In order to avoid or prevent these health risks of climate change in the near and distant future, appropriate strategies are essential for early planning and strengthening of the country’s health system. Government of Nepal has in place several major policies, plans and strategies to address climate change sensitive health risks. It includes; (i) Constitution of Nepal (2072) (ii) National Adaptation Programme of Actions (NAPA) to Climate Change (2010) (iii) National Framework on Local Adaptation Plans of Action (LAPA) (2011) (iv) National Health Policy (2076) (v) Public Health Service Act (2075) (vi) National Population Policy (2014) (vii) Nepal Health Sector Strategy (2015-2020) (viii) Nepal Health Sector Strategy – Implementation Plan (2016-2021) (ix) Health National Adaptation Plan (2017-2022) (x) Nationally Determined Contributions (2016).