Significant steps taken in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to mitigate health effects of climate change

Saso Sekulovski

Results of a project led by WHO/Europe on protecting health from climate change were presented in Skopje, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, on 20 and 21 March 2012. Launched in 2009 with financial support from the German Environment Ministry, project activities have been undertaken in seven countries that are already experiencing extreme climate-related events, and where the potential impact of climate change on public health is severe. The overall aim of the activities was to strengthen the capacity of health systems to respond to the effects of climate change.

To promote the results of the project, a special debate was organized in Parliament on 20 March, with participation of the relevant representatives from governmental and non-governmental institutions, agencies of the United Nations, and members of the Ministry of Health climate change steering committee. An official presentation of the results took place on 21 March attended by the Minister of Health, Minister of Environment and Physical Planning, and the Ambassador of Germany, among other stakeholders and partners.

Results

The project "Protecting health from climate change – a seven-country initiative" focuses on seven European countries (Albania, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, the Russian Federation, Tajikistan, the former Yugoslav Republic of  Macedonia and Uzbekistan).

Within the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia significant steps have been taken to reduce the influence of climate change on the health of the population. The project ends in March 2012, having reached the following objectives:

  • Health impacts of climate change have been assessed and a coherent set of recommendations for intersectoral policy-making developed.
  • Heat-health action plans and a system for timely announcement of heat-waves have been established.
  • Two medical facilities have been equipped with solar systems to pilot energy efficiency and self-sustainability in areas vulnerable to summer heat, enabling decreased CO2 emissions.
  • Awareness of health professionals has been raised on the issues related to climate change and communicable diseases, and guidelines on climate change and communicable diseases have been developed and published.

Future financial support in the area of climate change and health will be necessary for the country to monitor implementation of its national climate change adaptation plan, to continue to build its technical capacities, to support development of a cold weather early warning system as well as to continue the work in the area of energy efficiency in the health sector.