The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that there is a need for urgent action and global collaboration to tackle climate change which continues to pose a serious threat to human health.
WHO’s regional director for the Western Pacific Region, Takeshi Kasai, made this known while addressing a virtual press conference from Manila during the 2022 World Health Day.
“If we don’t take action today on planet health, we are putting our future health at risk. And when health is at risk, everything is at risk. That’s what we have learned from COVID-19,” Kasai said during the conference.
Every year, a record 3.5 million people across the WHO Western Pacific Region die from avoidable environmental causes such as air pollution, extreme weather events or waterborne diseases while a person dies from air pollution in the region every 14 seconds.
High levels of air pollution have also been found to be leading to a rise in non-communicable diseases, including strokes and heart and lung diseases.
During the conference, Kasai noted that the climate crisis is also a health crisis since climate change affects health in many different ways, emphasizing the need to build sustainable, climate-resilient health systems.
He maintained that the impact of climate change on human health is most vivid in the small Pacific Island developing countries, which have the smallest carbon footprint, adding that each year, these countries make up two-thirds of the countries globally that suffer the highest relative losses from environmental disasters.
Recall that the third installment of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report released on 4 April shows that limiting warming to around 2 degrees Celsius still requires global greenhouse gas emissions to peak before 2025, and be reduced by a quarter by 2030.
The IPCC report also focuses on cutting emissions and sets out viable options in every sector that can keep the possibility of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius alive.
Also speaking during the conference, Fiji’s Minister for Health and Medical Services, Ifereimi Waqainabete said that currently the health sector makes up around five percent of the global climate footprint and we can do better.
Waqainabete restated that the health sector can play a leading role by reducing its own emissions and having effective mitigation and adaptation strategies to deal with the health impacts of the changing climate.
Fiji was one of the first countries in the world to release its own national guidelines for climate-resilient, environmentally sustainable healthcare facilities.
“This is guiding our interventions to strengthen and reduce our environmental footprint across key areas: water, sanitation, hygiene, air pollution, energy infrastructure, technology and the health workforce,” Waqainabete added.
Story was adapted from Phys.Org