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Indonesia Health Ministry unveils new funding initiative for climate-resilient health system

Jakarta Post - May 2, 2024

Dio Suhenda, Jakarta – The Health Ministry, in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Health Organization (WHO), announced on Monday a new funding initiative that would pour in some US$5 million to help Indonesia build a more climate-resilient health system.

The initiative is supported by the Green Climate Fund (GCF), a multilateral financing mechanism that pools donations to assist developing countries reduce planet-heating emissions and adapt to climate crisis.

Speaking at the launch event on April 29, Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said the climate crisis had made global health systems more vulnerable to the spread of zoonotic diseases, citing the recent rise in local dengue cases as an example.

"Pathogens jump from animals to humans" in zoonosis, Budi explained. "With climate change, these animals are in more frequent contact with humans."

The minister added that the risk of developing noninfectious diseases, such as malnutrition and respiratory illnesses, was also higher due to drought-induced crop failures and worsening air pollution, respectively.

While reaffirming the government's commitment to leveraging facilities and networks for the GCF-supported initiative, he also called on other relevant ministries, such as the Environment and Forestry Ministry, to jump on the bandwagon.

"The Health Ministry will commit to supporting the energy and resources necessary to lead this project. To achieve the envisioned outcome together, the extensive collaboration of several ministries is necessary," Budi said.

The initiative aims to make Indonesia's health system more resilient to the climate crisis by funding research and pilot projects to further knowledge on the issue, as well as by incentivizing hospitals to reduce their carbon emissions.

The UNDP is working with the WHO, the Health Ministry and other local authorities to hash out details on how best to disburse the fund. The program's unveiling on Monday also served to kick-start working meetings between stakeholders in the health sector.

Aside from Indonesia, the GCF is preparing a similar initiative to help 16 other countries, including ASEAN neighbors Vietnam and Thailand, in developing a more climate-resilient health system.

The global fund currently has a total pool of around $70 million, 7 percent of which is to be allocated to Indonesian projects.

"The idea is not that the $5 million will solve all problems [in Indonesia's health sector], but to use the funds for pilot projects that can show concrete [results] and as proof of concept that can be replicated and garner interest from other investors," UNDP Indonesia deputy resident representative Sujala Pant told The Jakarta Post on Monday.

She noted that the Finance Ministry would need to endure the project before the funds could be disbursed, likely in stages from early 2025 to 2030.

WHO representative to Indonesia N. Paranietharan hailed the project as a "bold step forward for Indonesia", particularly as several studies showed the country was among the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

Among the studies he cited was a May 2023 joint report by UNICEF, the Health Ministry and the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG), which found that changes in regional climate patterns were affecting agroecosystems and water availability, potentially leading to water and food shortages and related diseases, such as malnutrition and diarrhea.

For example, the report said reduced rainfall and rising average temperatures in Maluku had led to a nearly 100 percent increase in pneumonia cases and a 19 percent increase in diarrheal diseases.

The ministry has also attributed the warmer rainy season due to El Nino for the recent spike in dengue cases. Health authorities have recorded at least 76,100 cases this year, of which nearly one-fifth was reported in the past week.

They have also reported 540 dengue-related deaths, triple the 180 fatalities recorded during the same period last year.

"Climate change is the single biggest health threat facing humanity, and the WHO is committed to responding to it," Paranietharan said at Monday's launch.

"[The funding initiative] will accelerate progress here, as [well as] across the world, towards a healthier, greener, more resilient and sustainable future for all."

Source: https://asianews.network/indonesia-health-ministry-unveils-new-funding-initiative-for-climate-resilient-health-system