Home » Neuquén has a plan for the health sector to prepare for climate change – Diario Río Negro

Neuquén has a plan for the health sector to prepare for climate change – Diario Río Negro

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Neuquén has a plan for the health sector to prepare for climate change – Diario Río Negro

In health centers and hospitals, diseases are diagnosed and treated. Prevention and health promotion actions and research are carried out to find solutions for the diversity of patients. But this operation implies that greenhouse gases are emitted through energy consumption, transportation, and the manufacture, use and disposal of products.

Neuquén is one of the first jurisdictions in Argentina that developed a health and climate change action plan, together with Misiones and Tucumán.

“Like all other human activities, there are impacts on the environment. and the health sector is no exception. So we have to rethink it and start to see how we adapt and how we mitigate. Adapting is beginning to prepare ourselves for how we are going to continue functioning in the face of what is going to happen. And mitigating is reducing the emission of greenhouse gases, or increasing sinks, for example, increasing tree planting. It is not judging the health system but rather stopping and analyzing,” he explained to Rio Negro Diary the toxicologist Horacio Trapassi, General Director of Environmental Health and Climate Change of the Ministry of Health of Neuquén.

Sinks are natural reservoirs that can absorb and capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, reducing its presence in the air.

The health and climate change plan was created within the framework of the Argentina Readiness Project. It was a two-year project with support from the Pan American Health Organization. This is a novel initiative that will set the foundations for other jurisdictions in the country.

The process was coordinated by the Environmental Health area of ​​the provincial Ministry of Health, the office of the Pan American Health Organization in Argentina, and the Environmental Health Coordination of the Ministry of Health of the Nation, under the orbit of the management by Carla Vizzotti.

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In Neuquén, an action plan was developed for the health system to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Photo: MatÃas Subat.

It contains a set of strategies, measures, policies and instruments to be implemented until the year 2030 to comply with Law No. 27520. of Minimum Budgets for Adaptation and Mitigation to Global Climate Change. It is mentioned as an instrument that is framed and aligned with the objectives and guidelines of the National Plan for Adaptation and Mitigation to Climate Change.

With the project, Among other things, a tool is promoted to measure health carbon footprints. This will allow us to know which points of the health system generate the most emissions. and thus the lines of work in the future can be better focused.

One of the specific actions is the creation of the Health and Climate Change Roundtable, where different organizations from the Ministry of Neuquén participate and meet monthly or bimonthly. It was materialized through a resolution of October 2023 and its mission is to “accompany, consolidate and endorse the proposals” of the plan.

One point of the plan is See how to optimize the chain of some inputs, for example, in their transportation.

Other lines are linked to waste and its treatment, and thinking about hospital structures from a perspective of energy savings.

The plan describes that There are effects of climate on health that can be direct, such as extreme weather events, and indirectwhich “refer to the incidence and geographical distribution of diseases

transmitted by water and food, by vectors and zoonotic diseases, which can be affected by changes in climatic conditions.

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An example of the latter in Neuquén is what happened with Temples of the Egyptians, the transmitting mosquito dengue. The situation of the populations of these insects is monitored in the province, from where surveillance actions have been coordinated for several years. They are aimed at the systematic collection and recording of information on insect vector populations, as well as the identification and evaluation of potential mosquito breeding sites, their elimination and sanitation.

According to these studies, it was evident that the dengue-transmitting mosquito could reproduce in the city of Neuquén. But so far it cannot be assured that it is established as part of the local biodiversity, as reported by the Health Ministry last January. However, it was highlighted that being able to complete the cycle had not happened before in the province.

Horacio Trapassi is the doctor and director in charge of Environmental Health and Climate Change in Neuquén. Photo: Ministry of Health.

How energy is consumed in the health system

The functioning of the health system involves energy consumption for use in transportation, electricity, heating and cooling.

Energy consumption is also exerted in the supply chain for manufacturing, acquisition, use of inputs and disposal of waste from centers and hospitals.

Greenhouse gas emissions by the health sector in Argentina were estimated based on the relationship that exists between the energy consumption of a sector and the expenditure allocated to it. They represent 2.07% of the country’s total emissions reported in 2021.

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