WHO Explores Impact of Climate Change on Health Goals
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WHO Explores Impact of Climate Change on Health Goals

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Sofía Garduño By Sofía Garduño | Journalist & Industry Analyst - Fri, 05/19/2023 - 12:38

WHO released the World Health Statistics 2023 report, which sheds light on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the attainment of health-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). To underscore the interdependence between the environment and health outcomes, climate change was incorporated into the document for the first time.

Since 2015, progress toward SDG targets has significantly decelerated. However, the pandemic further derailed numerous health-related indicators. “The pandemic set things back even further, overwhelming health systems and badly disrupting essential health services,” said Tedros Adhanom, Director General, WHO. 

The expansion of essential health services has slowed down compared to pre-2015 gains, raising concerns about universal access to quality healthcare. Moreover, despite some reductions in risks like tobacco and unsafe water, overall progress remains insufficient. High risk exposure persists, particularly with alcohol and hypertension. Also, most of the global population endures unhealthy fine particulate levels, while obesity rates continue to rise unabated, according to the report

The pandemic shifted the criteria and priorities of the health sector, causing health systems to overlook the long-term outcomes of NCDs and their prevention in favor of treating COVID-19. If current trends persist, it is projected that by 2048, NCDs will account for 86% of global deaths. Notably, NCDs are expected to represent 90% of all deaths by 2048 in the Americas, the Western Pacific and the European regions.

In 2021, overweight and obesity were Mexico’s primary risk factors for the development of NDCs, such as Type 2 diabetes, arterial hypertension, dyslipidemia, cardiovascular diseases, osteoarticular diseases, sleep apnea and certain types of cancer such as breast, prostate and colon, as reported by MBN. “The prevalence of diabetes in Mexico has become a major concern, affecting 16.9% of the population or one in every six individuals. Mexico ranks fifth among the most obese countries in the world and, while this is not a new issue, the prevalence of this disease is increasing at an alarming rate,” said Carlo Andrés Briones, Medical Director, Quest Diagnostics.

WHO’s report incorporates a dedicated section addressing the intersection of climate change and health for the first time, as this can further impede the achievement of health-related SDGs. “In the next 10 years, the main risks identified by our interviewees are related to nature, such as climate change and its social risks,“ said Alex Bolbrugge, President Mexico, Marsh, to MBN. Shifting climate patterns are resulting in a rise in the frequency and severity of weather and climate phenomena that have both immediate and long-term consequences for health, elevating the chances of fatalities, non-communicable diseases (NCDs), the transmission of infectious diseases and health emergencies. In 2016, approximately 24% of global deaths were attributed to environmental factors that are potentially modifiable, highlighting their preventable nature.

Despite the deceleration in progress towards SDGs, all stakeholders in the health sector remain confident in their commitment to advancing these goals. “We cannot give up. We plan to double our efforts since advances in healthcare translate to economic development. SDGs do not depend solely on the government; the private sector also has a great deal of responsibility,” said Patrick Devlyn, President of the Health Commission, CCE. 

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