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News Article

WHO Introduces COP26-Based Health Approach

By Miriam Bello | Fri, 11/12/2021 - 15:05

COP26’s focus on climate action could significantly reduce the negative health impacts caused by unpredictable weather conditions, reducing stress on global health systems.

Climate change has been responsible for many environmental changes in recent years, such as an increase in air and ocean temperatures, rise in sea level, widespread melting of glaciers, increase in frequency and intensity of extreme weather phenomena and increase of hydrogeological, flood, drought and fire risks. These environmental changes have led to massive social affectations but they also impact health directly and indirectly.

Direct impacts on health are derived from high temperatures and heat, low temperatures and cold, floods, wildfires and UV radiation, according to MDPI Journals. A type of direct impact is heat strokes, which occur when body temperature rises rapidly and the body cannot cool down. This condition can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not given, explains the CDC.

Indirect impacts include climate-sensitive infectious diseases, food, water and pollution-related affections and allergic diseases. For example, unpredictable weather conditions can cause nutritional following by agricultural variation. Nutritional shifts can derive in non-optimal quantity of food intake (under and over-nutrition) and non-optimal quality of food intake. Non-optimal diets are estimated to account for about 10 percent of the global burden of disease and increase vulnerability to overweight, obesity and their related diseases, according to a study by Hanna Tuomisto of Wellcome Open Research.

In the wake of COP26, the WHO highlights 10 health specific actions to reduce the negative health impacts caused by climate change:

  1. Commit to a healthy recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic

By aligning with the Paris Agreement goals, supporting a fossil fuel-free recovery, committing to a 100 percent green stimulus spending and ending fossil subsidies. Preventing and preparing for the next pandemic by including health in all policies at an international and national level. Lastly, committing to vaccine equity, energy access for all and address inequality, which is at the root of the current climate health crisis.

  1. “Our health is not negotiable.”

Commitment to closing the 1.5°C gap, scaling up finance for vulnerable countries to tackle climate and health, step up support for adaptation and resilience crises and to finalize the Paris Agreement Rulebook.

  1. Harness the health benefits of climate action.

Prioritize those climate interventions with the largest health, social and economic gains by maximizing and measuring the health co-benefits of climate action at all levels of governance.

  1. Build health resilience to climate risks.

Build climate-resilient and environmentally sustainable health systems and facilities, and support health adaptation and resilience across sectors

  1. Create energy systems that protect and improve climate and health.

Guide a just and inclusive transition to renewable energy to save lives from air pollution, particularly from coal combustion. End energy poverty in households and health care facilities.

  1. Reimagine urban environments, transport and mobility.

Promote sustainable, healthy urban design and transport systems, with improved land-use, access to green and blue public space and prioritize walking, cycling and public transport.

  1. Protect and restore nature as the foundation of health.

Protect and restore natural systems, which are the foundations for healthy lives, sustainable food systems and livelihoods.

  1. Promote healthy, sustainable, and resilient food systems.

Promote sustainable and resilient food production and more affordable, nutritious diets that deliver on both climate and health outcomes.

  1. Finance a healthier, fairer, and greener future to save lives.

Transition towards a wellbeing economy by stop funding pollution, closing the financing gap and providing debt relief to vulnerable nations.

  1. Listen to the health community and prescribe urgent climate action.

Mobilize and support the health community on climate action.

Miriam Bello Miriam Bello Journalist and Industry Analyst