According to Tran Dac Phu, Director of the ministry’s Preventive Health Department, the recurrence of epidemics can be attributed to several factors including climate change, environmental pollution, emergence of new virus strains, increasing population and changing lifestyles.
Emerging diseases include malnutrition, stress, insomnia, loss of appetite, dizziness, headaches and infectious diseases, which become prominent when the temperature increases.
According to studies presented at a recent conference on climate change and environmental health during the integration period, elderly and children are more vulnerable to changes in the weather.
For example, in the Mekong Delta region, the number of children hospitalized with digestion and respiratory infections increases by around 3.4 per cent when the temperature goes up by one degree Celsius.
In Thai Nguyen, people suffering from cardiovascular problems are at high risk of being hospitalised when the temperature falls by one degree Celsius.
Cases of diarrhoea also increase with changes in the weather, the studies found.
In Vietnam, rising seawater levels, temperature increases and changes in rainfall all are favorable conditions for mosquitoes to reproduce and transmit diseases, according to the Environmental Management Department under the MoH.
Dengue is a seasonal disease which is seen mostly in the Mekong Delta in the south of Vietnam. However, recent surveys found that dengue fever tends to appear year round and in northern provinces as well. Some tropical diseases have disappeared in many countries around the world, but are growing in Viet Nam, like tuberculosis, dengue and malaria.
In an alarming projection, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has warned that a population of 1.5 billion to 3.5 billion people could face the risk of being afflicted by dengue by 2080 as a result of global warming.
According to the WHO, climate change has a close relationship with the development of infectious diseases. As a rule, after natural calamities, the environment suffers major disturbances. Heavily contaminated water sources are one of the main causes of the outbreaks of gastrointestinal illness and other diseases spread by water sources.
It says that heat waves, occurring with increasing frequency and with higher intensity, will increase the risk of thermal shock, stroke and myocardial infarction, and increase morbidity and mortality, especially among the poor, elderly and children. The impact on human health caused by heat waves should be a major concern of the country’s health care sector.
Vietnam is working hard with the international community to implement an action plan to respond to climate change.
Nguyen Thi Lien Huong, Director of the MoH’s Environmental Management Department, said solutions to deal with climate change should be continuously implemented by building an early warning system for disease outbreaks.
In addition, the building and implementation of models that provide health services in response to natural disasters caused by climate change should be improved, especially in affected regions, she said.