Key speakers and reactors in the UPCPH-BEM Webinar 3 on "Mitigating Climate Change Impacts in the Now Normal: Parasitic and Vector-Borne Diseases” on 17 March 2022
The impact of climate change on major parasitic diseases and how to move forward with mitigation efforts in the new normal were the topics tackled by College of Public Health Dean and UPCPH/TROPMED Philippines Centre Director Dr. Vicente Belizario Jr. during the webinar, “Mitigating Climate Change Impacts in the Now Normal: Parasitic and Vector-Borne Diseases” on 17 March 2022. This was the third webinar in the Public Health in the Time of COVID-19 and the Now Normal Webinar Series.
He presented data that have continually shown that climate is a major determinant of health. Populations living in areas most prone to climate change were also disproportionately affected by parasitic and vector-borne diseases, while also being in a vicious cycle of poverty.
He recommended that moving forward, continuing education for health professionals is important to generate new knowledge; as well as active participation in research, advocacy, and policy development. Fostering partnerships and collaborations is necessary to sustain climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts.
Another speaker, Dr. Jose Gerard Belimac, Department of Health Division Chief of Infectious Diseases Division and Adult Health Division, discussed the strategies to control major parasitic and vector-borne diseases especially in the now normal. He highlighted two key points: the push for Universal Health Care in the Philippines which aims to streamline the implementation of prevention and control programs, including those that address neglected tropical diseases; and an integrated approach that includes capacity-building for local government units and frontline facilities as key implementers which are most timely amid climate change.
Dr. Noel Miranda, Technical Advisor, ASEAN Public Health Emergency Coordination System Project, echoed what Dr. Belizario said in his earlier presentation. Now more than ever, there is an urgent need to adopt the One Health Approach that will provide a systemic and integrated framework to enhance knowledge-generation and policy planning and service delivery in time of climate change, especially amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and the now normal.
Reactors Dr. Rohani Cena-Navarro, NIH Research Assistant Professor of the Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology of NIH and Research Associate of Neglected Tropical Diseases Study Group and Dr. Lorenzo Maria De Guzman (MPH 2021), reiterated the need for improving surveillance to identify other areas for emergence of NTDs and for an interdisciplinary approach on research. Dr. Navarro also alluded to one area for further research which is the meteorological aspects of climate change and their possible links to vector-borne diseases. Both reactors also agreed that it is imperative that the One Health approach be manifested in collaborative networks to help mitigate the effects of climate change on parasitic and vector-borne diseases. In addition, Dr. De Guzman highlighted that encouraging people’s participation in communities and providing them with timely technical and financial assistance would be most beneficial to foster community partnerships.
The webinar was moderated by Dr. Sheriah Laine De Paz-Silava, Associate Professor, Department of Medical Microbiology. The overall coordination was a joint effort of the Department of Medical Microbiology and the Department of Parasitology in coordination with the BEM-UP CPH Webinar Series Project Team led by Dr. Emerito Jose A. Faraon (BSPH 1989), Associate Professor and Communications Officer. This five-part webinar series will run until the end of March 2022 to cover two more health topics which are vaccine-preventable diseases and mental health.
Jhaki Mendoza and Dr. Emerito Jose Faraon