BY RICHARD DRASIMAKU
ARUA: TUESDAY, OCTOBER 12, 2021
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has outlined a ten-point climate action recommendation aimed at achieving sustainable recovery from Covid-19 pandemic.
The WHO COP26 Special Report on Climate Change and Health, launched today, in the lead-up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, spells out the global health community’s prescription for climate action.
These were based on a growing body of research that establishes the many and inseparable links between climate and health, according to a press release by the WHO.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has shone a light on the intimate and delicate links between humans, animals and our environment,” Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General was quoted as saying.
“The same unsustainable choices that are killing our planet are killing people. WHO calls on all countries to commit to decisive action at COP26 to limit global warming to 1.5°C – not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it’s in our own interests. WHO’s new report highlights 10 priorities for safeguarding the health of people and the planet that sustains us.”
The WHO’s ten recommendations are- place health and social justice at the heart of the UN climate talks, prioritize those climate interventions with the largest health, social and economic gains, build climate resilient and environmentally sustainable health systems and facilities and support health adaptation and resilience across sectors; guide a just and inclusive transition to renewable energy to save lives from air pollution, particularly from coal combustion i.e. end energy poverty in households and health care facilities.
The others are promote sustainable, healthy urban design and transport systems, with improved land-use, access to green and blue public space, and priority for walking, cycling and public transport; protect and restore natural systems, the foundations for healthy lives, sustainable food systems and livelihoods; promote sustainable and resilient food production and more affordable, nutritious diets that deliver on both climate and health outcomes; Finance a healthier, fairer and greener future to save lives and listen to the health community and prescribe urgent climate action.
The WHO report was launched at the same time as an open letter, signed by over two thirds of the global health workforce – 300 organizations representing at least 45 million doctors and health professionals worldwide.
They called for national leaders and COP26 country delegations to step up climate action.
“Wherever we deliver care, in our hospitals, clinics and communities around the world, we are already responding to the health harms caused by climate change,” the letter from health professionals reads in part.
“We call on the leaders of every country and their representatives at COP26 to avert the impending health catastrophe by limiting global warming to 1.5°C, and to make human health and equity central to all climate change mitigation and adaptation actions.”
The report and open letter come as unprecedented extreme weather events and other climate impacts are taking a rising toll on people’s lives and health, WHO noted.
It highlighted increasingly frequent extreme weather events, such as heatwaves, storms and floods which it noted kill thousands and disrupt millions of lives, while threatening healthcare systems and facilities when they are needed most.
Changes in weather and climate are threatening food security and driving up food-, water- and vector-borne diseases, such as malaria, while climate impacts are also negatively affecting mental health.
The global health experts stressed that achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement would save millions of lives every year due to improvements in air quality, diet, and physical activity, among other benefits.