Strengthening Adaptation Planning and Action to Climate-Related Health Impacts in Pacific Islands Countries: Tonga
A natural hazard and climate change vulnerability and adaptation tool was applied in Tonga to identify health and health system-related climate and natural hazards, and to create and prioritize adaptation strategies and opportunities. During a 2-day multi-sectoral workshop, expert stakeholders prioritized the most extreme health-related and health system risks and devised a series of adaptation strategies. A series of health and health system impacts were identified and related to: cyclones/severe storms, increased average and extreme temperatures, flooding (including landslides), drought, wildfire, tsunami, earthquakes and volcanic activity. The main adaptation strategies identified improving drinking water security; development of Government procedures for drought management; linking health and climate data; increasing food security; improvements in urban design; training health workers; increasing evacuation center resilience in villages; increased research into management responses and enforcing and updating the building code. Adaptation to the health and health system impacts explored during the workshop include many outside the scope of the health system. This paper highlights the importance of multi-stakeholder engagement and co-planning to anticipate and plan for natural hazard and climate-related health and health system impacts and benefits of establishing and using expert knowledge to determine health adaptation connections, build bridges across sectors and prioritize strategies in the absence of climate and health attributable information.