WHO Raises Its Voice To Underline Health Effects Of Climate Change 27/08/2014 by Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch 1 Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)The World Health Organization this week is holding its first conference on health and climate change. The major objective of the conference is to raise awareness on the impact of climate change on health, according to the WHO, which said it aims to strengthen its voice in the debate. During a press briefing today, Maria Neira, director of the WHO Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health Department, said the 27-29 August conference is gathering health and environment ministers, experts, scientists and civil society. “We want everybody to agree on the science telling us that climate change is affecting dramatically health,” she said, adding that measures to tackle climate change, such as reducing green gas emissions can “have a maximum benefit for the health of the people.” “Our planet is losing its capacity to sustain human life in good health” – WHO Director General Margaret Chan The conference’s main objectives, according to the WHO, is to strengthen health system resilience to climate risks, and to promote health while mitigating climate change. The conference can be followed by live stream. According to a WHO fact sheet, between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause some 250,000 additional deaths per year, from ailments such as malnutrition, malaria, and heat stress. Areas most affected are the areas with weak health infrastructure, least able to cope with the consequences of climate change, the document says. In her opening remarks, WHO Director General Margaret Chan, said “Our planet is losing its capacity to sustain human life in good health.” Some epidemic-prone diseases, like cholera, dengue and malaria are sensitive to climate variability, she said, and these diseases “have a huge potential for social disruption and make huge logistical demands on response teams.” A WHO press release today called for stronger action on climate-related health risks. Health benefits could be derived from speedy action to reduce climate change, said the release, citing changes in energy and transport policies which could save “millions of lives annually from diseases caused by high levels of air pollution.” Alistair Woodward, coordinating lead author of the health chapter of the fifth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said at the press briefing that there is growing acceptance of the consequences of climate change and a heightened focus on possible solutions, such as reducing active transportation in cities, or equipping cars with diesel filters. Climate change is no longer only an environmental issue, said Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum, scientist and team leader climate change at the WHO Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health. There is a growing awareness of the impact on health, he said. “If we don’t reduce greenhouse gas,” many places might become unsuitable for health, he added. WHO intends to support countries and populations on what they need to do to protect themselves from climate change. Neira remarked that climate change is affecting the global population, not only developing countries. She cited asthma and respiratory diseases in developed countries as examples. She also said that the conference could help ministers of health to be empowered with good health arguments to influence climate change discussions. Separately, on 8 July, the WHO and the UN World Meteorological Organization established a WHO/WMO Climate and Health Office “under the auspices of the Global Framework for Climate Services …. to promote the coordinated development and use of climate services to improve public health,” according to the WMO. This new office “will increase awareness, build capacity, and connect meteorological services with experts in the health sector in an active partnership for climate adaptation and risk management.” Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related Catherine Saez may be reached at email@example.com."WHO Raises Its Voice To Underline Health Effects Of Climate Change" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.