Lebanon has been experiencing increased temperatures, as well as increasingly frequent and severe natural disasters related to climate change, which not only has direct impact on human health but also threatens the capacity of health care delivery services in managing and protecting population health. Preliminary assessments found that the overall adaptive capacity of healthcare institutions in Lebanon is low, as many of them lack the capacity and resources needed to prepare for and respond to this climatic challenge.

Therefore, and consistently with its commitment to the Paris Agreement, Lebanon has announced its commitment to building a climate-resilient and environmentally sustainable healthcare system as part of the UK COP26’s Initiative ‘Alliance for Transformative Action on Climate Health (ATACH)’. This initiative, launched by the UK COP26 Presidency in 2021, calls on countries to take bold action to address the intersection of climate change and health.

Lebanon, in partnership with the World Healt
h Organization (WHO), is committed to developing a comprehensive and integrated approach to climate change and health. Both the Ministries of Public health (MoPH) and the Environment (MoE) have expressed commitment to the Health and Environment Strategic Framework 2021-2026 launched on the World Health day 2022, in line with the Arab Health and Environment Strategy Framework 2017-30 adopted by the Summit of the Arab League on April 15, 2018. The strategy focuses on healthcare facilities in areas of water and sanitation, chemical safety, management of healthcare waste, environmental preparedness in health care, vulnerability of health care facilities to climate change, emergency preparedness, and greening of the health sector.

In addition, the Lebanese Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) has endorsed COP26 proceedings in an official letter signed and dated March 26, 2023. As part of this initiative, Lebanon will prioritize the health needs of its population, while simultaneously addressing the environmental and
sustainability challenges facing its healthcare facilities. Lebanon will be working to strengthen its healthcare infrastructure, increase its capacity for emergency preparedness and response, and improve its ability to monitor and respond to emerging health threats. The most recent cholera outbreak is an example of the significant impact of deterioration in infrastructure and neglect of climate change. Lebanon is also committed to reducing the environmental impact of its healthcare system, particularly reducing greenhouse gas emissions and waste generation.

Moreover, Lebanon’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) has emphasized on increased adaptation action, prioritizing action to ensure public health’s safety, well-being, and safety of all communities through climate resilient systems. All of which is aligned and builds up on the MoPHs efforts to increase climate-resilient systems as per Lebanon’s National Health Strategy: Vision 2030. Lebanon did initiate climate friendly actions, including investing
in solar energy in healthcare facilities, with the support of several UN agencies, and integration of telehealth. On the other hand, a recent report by the MoE, in collaboration with UNDP, GEF, and the MoPH has highlighted further the need for progressive adaptive measures to increase the climate resilience of public health infrastructure, facilities, and capacities.

Therefore, Lebanon commits to continuously improve its health system to be resilient to climate change impacts through:

Updating the climate change and health vulnerability and adaptation assessment (V and A) that was conducted in the latest Fourth National Communication Report and highlighted even further in the Vulnerability and Adaptation of Healthcare Service Providers Report; officials will continue to assess vulnerability to climate change in an iterative way, and inform health policies and programs.

Developing a health component in the National Adaptation Plan (NAP) based on updated evidence from the updated climate change and health
vulnerability assessments.

Lebanon will use its abundant research and reports (Vulnerability of Health Care Facilities to Climate Change 2022 Report; Lebanon’s 4th National Communication on Climate Change; Lebanon’s National Health Strategy: Vision 2030; upcoming NAP) to identify needs and priorities that may facilitate access to climate change funding for health, including the climate change multilateral funding mechanisms (e.g., project proposals submitted to the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), Green Climate Fund (GCF) or Adaptation Fund (AF) or GCF Readiness Programmes). As a nation that has struggled with environmental and public health challenges, Both the Lebanese Ministers of Public Health and Environment believe that this initiative is a crucial step towards building a more climate resilient and sustainably healthy future for the nation, and are keen on addressing the gaps identified at the levels of policy, infrastructure, and prevention.

Source: National News Agency – Lebanon