This Is Our Story
Planetary health is a new integrated vision for the future of health of both people and the planet.
We now live in the Anthropocene epoch, in which human activities are the major drivers of global environmental change. In turn, these ecosystem alterations create new public health problems.
Two contemporary challenges at the heart of the human health-environment nexus are climate change and pandemics. Accelerating climate change leads to more typhoons, extreme heat, flooding, and sea level rise, which then generate a wide range of climate-related diseases such as mosquito-borne disease outbreaks, heat stroke, and hypertension due to intake of salinized water. Meanwhile, unabated encroachment into natural ecosystems through wildlife consumption and rapid urbanization increases the likelihood of a zoonotic leap – when a virus jumps from an animal to a human being, which is how the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic originated.
The Philippines is at the heart of planetary health. A tropical developing country in Southeast Asia, the Philippines is one of world’s most climate-vulnerable countries and is also a known infectious disease hotspot. The Filipino people are now beginning to experience the early health consequences of climate change; hence, there is an urgent need to build the capacity of health systems and local communities to effectively respond to these emerging health conditions. On the other hand, the lush Philippine environment is home to a rich biodiversity of microbes that can easily spread locally and even globally if community systems for habitat preservation and early outbreak detection are not put in place.
The planetary health story of the Filipino must be told. Despite the looming health crises brought about by long-term climate change and future pandemics, Filipinos remain a resilient and innovative people. Initial efforts are already being undertaken by local governments, nongovernmental organizations, private sector, and youth groups across the country to adapt to climate change as well as reduce the likelihood of the next epidemic.
There is a need to gather all these stories from the frontlines and to share them so that the next generation can learn and use the lessons to reshape their future anew.