The World Health Organization (WHO) has made this Wednesday, in the framework of the World Health Assembly, which is being held in Geneva (Switzerland), a “urgent appeal” to take action against climate change.
“The most pressing reasons for urgent climate action are not the impacts in the future, but right now, on health. The climate crisis is a health crisis, that fuels outbreaks, contributes to higher rates of noncommunicable diseases, and threatens to overwhelm our health workforce and health infrastructures,” warned WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
In his speech, he has detailed the measures that should be taken, such as reducing carbon emissions; create “better, more climate resilient and environmentally sustainable” health systems; and “protecting health from the wide range of impacts of climate change”.
“We need renewable energy in healthcare facilities; dedicated funding for the healthcare sector for climate resilience; and increased use of reliable, cheap and green electricity,” said Dr Tedros.
In this regard, the WHO has warned that climate change is “increasing the non-communicable diseases and facilitating the emergence and spread of infectious diseases”.
“In addition, it is affecting our health personnel and our infrastructure, while reducing the ability to achieve Universal Health Coverage,” they added.
According to the international health body, a “further delay” in climate action “will significantly increase the risks to our health, undermine decades of improvements in global health and will contravene our collective commitments to guarantee the human right to health for all.”
In this sense, the director of the Department of Public Health and the Environment of the WHO, the Spanish María Neira, has pointed to three challenges that the health community must face in climate matters. The first, and “most important”, is to “address the various health implications of the climate change crisis, emphasizing the need to safeguard human well-being.”
The second challenge revolves around the construction of “resilient” healthcare systems who “can effectively navigate the complexities of the 21st century, ensuring optimal healthcare delivery in a constantly evolving landscape.”
Lastly, Neira has highlighted the “health advantages derived from the transition towards a society with low carbon emissions, illustrating the critical interaction between environmental sustainability and human well-being”.
“These three great challenges urge the health community to mobilize and undertake transformative actions to safeguard public health and ensure a sustainable future for future generations,” he said.
For his part, John Kerry, United States Special Presidential Envoy for Climate Change, has thanked the WHO for raising the alarm about the climate crisis and has warned the international community about its repercussions: “There is no way educated to say it, the climate crisis is killing people.
Finally, COP28 Director General Adnan Z. Amin has announced that a ‘Health Day’ will be included in this year’s conference, which will include a meeting of Health and Climate Ministers.