The GLC4HSR hosted a webinar on Climate Change and Health on June 1. The session titled, “Assessing Vulnerabilities in Marginalized Communities,” examined the health impact of climate change on communities in the Pacific region and Sri Lanka. The webinar was conducted a part of the thematic focus area of “People’s Health” undertaken at the GLC4HSR. InOrder is a member and the India chapter convener of the GLC4HSR.

The panelists were Dr Jemaima Tiatia, Pro Vice Chancellor, Pacific, University of Aukland and a Samoan academic, researcher and mental health and wellbeing advocate and Mr Sandaruwan Lahiru, National Aquatic Resources Research and Development Agency, Sri Lanka. The discussion was moderated by Ms. Iman Hameed from ACCESS Health International.

Some takeaways of the session include:

  • Indigenous ways of knowing and doing is important.  We need governments to help re-establish traditional ways of knowing, as the more that’s lost, the harder it is to come back.
  • The people are connected to their land, physically, mentally, and spiritually. They are deeply connected to their environment; thus mitigation and adaptation planning must be done from their perspectives.
  • Mental health is a real threat from climate impact. Socioeconomic vulnerabilities as well as physical and social ones can put a stress on mental well-being.  There is much need to understand how to design and provide community-appropriate mental health services that respect their needs.
  • Although these communities are vulnerable, they are incredibly resilient.  Facing climate change and unpredictability far more frequently, we have much to learn from them.  We need more of their knowledge on resilience to be studied and represented on both global and local platforms.
  • Inclusive health systems need to be open to unlearning our ways of seeing and understanding, which is often a biomedical view of the world.

The webinar recording is available here: https://youtu.be/2m_tBHnRLM4

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