WHO call to action to protect health from climate change

November 25, 2015


Leading up to the United National Conference on Climate Change (COP21) from 30 November to 11 December, the World Health Organization has issued a call for action, asking all health professionals to do everything they can to reduce climate change and its negative impact on health.

Climate change has the potential to seriously harm the health of people around the world. With Global Warming, heat waves will become more frequent, taking lives and causing heat-related illnesses. Hurricanes, floods and wildfires will also become more frequent, with resulting loss of human life and more malnutrition due to the impact of droughts and floods on food production.

According to Dr Maria Neira, WHO Director of the Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health, changes to weather patterns will also “continue to cause changes to infectious disease transmission patterns resulting in more outbreaks of malaria, dengue and cholera.” One of the main killers related to climate change is air pollution. WHO states that annually, over 7 million deaths from respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease and cancer are attributable to air pollution. Neira: “As health professionals, we have a duty to stop the impacts of climate change. While it may seem outside our scope of work, we are at the front line in caring for the health of current and future generations.

The WHO call to action will be presented at the COP21 and will demand a climate deal that delivers:

  • Strong and effective action to limit climate change, and avoid unacceptable risks to global health
  • Scaling up of financing for adaptation to climate change: including public health measures to reduce the risks from extreme weather events, infectious disease, diminishing water supplies, and food insecurity, 
  • Actions that both reduce climate change and improve health, including reducing the number of deaths from cancer, respiratory and cardiovascular diseases that are caused by air pollution (currently over 7 million per annum)

More information

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