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No one can escape climate change!

WHO warns nations - Climate change biggest health threat

Fossil fuel-driven air pollution killing 13 per minute, worldwide

Changes in weather are threatening food security and driving up food-water-and vector-borne diseases, says the WHO

By B N KUMAR

MUMBAI, Oct 11 (The CONNECT) - Climate change is the single biggest health threat facing humanity even as the fossil fuel-driven air pollution causing 13 deaths per minute worldwide.

Stating this, the World Health Organisation’s COP26 Special Report on Climate Change and Health, today pointed out that while no one is safe from the health impacts of climate change, they are disproportionately felt by the most vulnerable and disadvantaged.

Our health is not negotiable. Place health and social justice at the heart of the UN climate talks, it said.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has shone a light on the intimate and delicate links between humans, animals and our environment,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “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,” Dr Tedros said.

Countries must set ambitious national climate commitments if they are to sustain a healthy and green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Coming as it did in the lead-up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, the WHO report spelt out the global health community’s prescription for climate action based on a growing body of research that establishes the many and inseparable links between climate and health.

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 WHO said.

The WHO report is 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, calling for national leaders and COP26 country delegations to step up climate action.  

Navi Mumbai-based NatConnect Foundation, too signed the open letter.

“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.

“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. Increasingly frequent extreme weather events, such as heatwaves, storms and floods, kill thousands and disrupt millions of lives, while threatening healthcare systems and facilities when they are needed most.

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. However, most climate decision-making processes currently do not account for these health co-benefits and their economic valuation, the WHO said.   

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