Talking Points by Ms. Ramla Khalidi, UNDP Viet Nam Resident Representative at the launch of the project “Strengthening Climate Change-Related One Health Response”

June 7, 2024

Mr. Nguyen Thuc Hien, Vice Chairman of Can Tho City People’s Committee;
Ms. Aler Grubbs, USAID Vietnam Mission Director and USAID colleagues,
Representatives of central ministries, Can Tho departments and agencies, and from An Giang, Soc Trang, and other provinces;
Ladies and gentlemen:

Early this morning, I had the opportunity to visit the famous Cai Rang floating market. 
I wanted to see for myself the impact of climate change on Can Tho and the Mekong Delta more generally.  These impacts were evident, and they are not new. In the 2015-2016 and 2019-2020 seasons, drought and saltwater intrusion reached far inland, with serious livelihoods and health impacts.

In the bustling market, a microcosm of the Delta, it was easy to see how human, animal, and environmental health interact, and the risk for the emergence of zoonotic diseases. Climate change exacerbates that risk. As changing weather patterns affect wildlife, livestock, crops, and aquaculture, they impose stressors and changes that can result in increased contact and risks of disease spill-over. We know, for example, that dengue outbreaks are closely linked to climate-related factors, including temperature, rainfall, and humidity.

A recent review of 375 infectious diseases found that well over half were made worse by climate change.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
In their deliberations on a Global Pandemic Accord last month, world leaders and scientists were clear: It is not a matter of whether another pandemic will occur, but when. We must be prepared.

UNDP and USAID are committed to partnering with Viet Nam to strengthen capacities to detect, prevent, and respond to climate change-related emerging diseases and related public health issues.

The new project we are launching today, “Strengthening Climate Change Related One Health Response” is part of our collective preparedness. It will support Can Tho and An Giang authorities to design and implement new climate change-related One Health initiatives in consultation with local stakeholders, including businesses and women’s unions.

This will include:

  • expanding telehealth options to strengthen health access and early detection and control of diseases; 
  • upgrading primary health infrastructure to support continuity of services during extreme weather events; and
  • equipping local authorities and health systems to be better positioned to respond to climate-induced public health threats, working closely with the agriculture and environment sectors.

Subject to project approval, the project will also support Soc Trang province, and work with central government ministries and other partners to incorporate climate change factors into national One Health strategies and policies, and to develop an effective and capable One Health workforce.

UNDP highly appreciates the approval of the project by Can Tho and An Giang authorities. We are very excited to work closely with you all for the successful implementation of the project.

Thank you. Xin Cam On.