The resilience of health systems and their ability to withstand environmental and social shocks and stressors is challenged by climate change, particularly in low-income settings where resources are limited and vulnerability to systemic shocks is high. With its past and ongoing climate-related shocks and stressors, including cyclones, seasonal and flash flooding, drought, and extreme heat and humidity Bangladesh provides a diverse case example by which to examine health system resilience in an environment of ongoing climate change shocks and stressors. Although Bangladeshis have experienced issues with flooding, heat, humidity and drought in the past, what is now being experienced as a result of climate change is understood as different. In former research by this team, the consensus among rural farmers was that seasonal changes, flooding, heat, and drought were far more damaging than previously and completely unpredictable.
Furthermore, stakeholders interviewed in previous research identified a lack of governance, particularly in terms of coordination/collaboration between climate change stakeholders, as one of the primary challenges impacting health system and community resilience to climate change. Although climate change has been integrated in most sector development plans and into the Ministry of Health in Bangladesh, few climate change activities have been implemented. However, as a new health sector plan is awaiting implementation there is a good window of opportunity to bring multisectoral actors together and identify a strong role for the health sector in working with climate change.
These findings are corroborated by the literature, which identifies coordinated and inclusive governance to be a requisite for resilient health systems, and by the fact that there are no broad formal networks encompassing the health system and the climate change networks in Bangladesh, which further supports the need for this project.
This research will examine how to cultivate inclusive, coordinated networks between climate stakeholders in Bangladesh to improve responses to climate shocks and stressors, ultimately enhancing health system and community resilience.
This study is expected to run until October 2024
Image: Building rain gardens for climate change adaptations with icddr,b and community members in Bangladesh