The vulnerability of health infrastructure to the impacts of climate change and sea level rise in small island countries in the South Pacific

Taylor, Subhashni (2021) The vulnerability of health infrastructure to the impacts of climate change and sea level rise in small island countries in the South Pacific. Health Services Insights, 14.

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Anthropogenic climate change and related sea level rise will have a range of impacts on populations, particularly in the low lying Pacific island countries (PICs). One of these impacts will be on the health and well-being of people in these nations. In such cases, access to medical facilities is important. This research looks at the medical facilities currently located on 14 PICs and how climate change related impacts such as sea level rise may affect these facilities. The medical infrastructure in each country were located using information from a range of sources such as Ministry of Health (MoH) websites, World Health Organization, Doctors Assisting in South Pacific Islands (DAISI), Commonwealth Health Online, and Google Maps. A spatial analysis was undertaken to identify medical infrastructure located within 4 zones from the coastline of each country: 0 to 50 m, 50 to 100 m, 100 to 200 m, and 200 to 500 m. The findings indicate that 62% of all assessed medical facilities in the 14 PICs are located within 500 m of the coast. The low-lying coral atoll countries of Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Tokelau, and Tuvalu will be highly affected as all medical facilities in these countries fall within 500 m of the coast. The results provide a baseline analysis of the threats posed by sea-level rise to existing critical medical infrastructure in the 14 PICs and could be useful for adaptive planning. These countries have limited financial and technical resources which will make adaptation challenging.

Item ID: 68461
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1178-6329
Keywords: Climate change, health infrastructure, sea level rise, Pacific island countries
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Copyright Information: © The Author(s) 2021. article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 License ( which permits non-commercial use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (
Funders: James Cook University (JCU)
Date Deposited: 15 Jun 2021 03:36
FoR Codes: 42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4203 Health services and systems > 420321 Rural and remote health services @ 35%
37 EARTH SCIENCES > 3702 Climate change science > 370201 Climate change processes @ 35%
40 ENGINEERING > 4013 Geomatic engineering > 401302 Geospatial information systems and geospatial data modelling @ 30%
SEO Codes: 20 HEALTH > 2005 Specific population health (excl. Indigenous health) > 200508 Rural and remote area health @ 50%
19 ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY, CLIMATE CHANGE AND NATURAL HAZARDS > 1905 Understanding climate change > 190506 Effects of climate change on the South Pacific (excl. Australia and New Zealand) (excl. social impacts) @ 50%
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