Global Health Urgency: Climate and Health Take Center Stage at COP28

In the lead-up to COP28, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the global health community are sounding a clarion call for immediate action on the nexus of climate change and health. This concerted effort aims to thrust health considerations to the forefront of global discussions, compelling leaders and negotiators to recognize their responsibility in safeguarding the well-being of populations worldwide.

Climate Change Impact on Health, COP28 Negotiations

WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, emphasizes that prioritizing health is not merely a choice but the bedrock of resilient societies. Leaders are urged to deliver robust health outcomes in Dubai, acknowledging the interconnectedness of health and climate action for global prosperity.

IPCC Report, Extreme Weather Events, Heat-related Deaths

Recent extreme weather events globally offer a grim preview of the consequences of a rapidly warming world. The IPCC report underscores that approximately 3.5 billion people, nearly half of humanity, reside in areas highly vulnerable to climate change. WHO’s figures reveal a 70% rise in heat-related deaths among individuals aged over 65 in two decades. Urgent, bold action to limit warming to 1.5 °C is deemed essential to avert a worsening future.

Climate-induced Displacement, Impact on Healthcare, World Bank Forecasts

Increasingly severe weather events, including floods and droughts, strain healthcare infrastructure. Last year’s floods in Pakistan displaced 8 million people, with projections suggesting that climate change could displace around 216 million people by 2050. Decisive and collaborative action is urgently needed to mitigate the health impacts of the climate crisis.

Adapting Health Systems for Resilience

The health community advocates for strengthening health systems globally to be resilient, low carbon, and sustainable. Adapting health systems involves upgrading key interventions such as vector control, epidemiological surveillance, and aligning health systems with WHO’s operational framework for climate-resilient systems.

Reducing Emissions for Health Protection

The health community stresses the importance of reducing and stopping emissions, with 7 million annual premature deaths attributed to air pollution. Urgent mitigation measures, including transitioning to clean energy sources, are deemed necessary to protect human health and foster sustainable outcomes.

Greening the Health Sector: Decarbonizing Health Systems, Sustainable Practices, Global Emissions

Recognizing the role health systems play in emissions, the health community advocates for greening the health sector. This involves decarbonizing health systems, digitalizing medicine, and implementing sustainable practices in hospitals to significantly reduce the 5% global emissions attributed to the health sector.

Accelerating Access to Clean Energy: Electrification of Healthcare Facilities, Renewable Energies

For over 1 billion people served by health-care facilities with unreliable or no electricity, the health community calls for accelerating access to clean energy. WHO collaborates with partners to hasten electrification through renewable energies, reducing reliance on diesel and gas.

Addressing Financial Disparities

Acknowledging the financial gap in health systems, the health community calls for increased financing from new sources. This includes divesting from fossil fuels, ending subsidies, and mobilizing new funds to support health systems in coping with climate change.

Alliance for Transformative Action on Climate and Health (ATACH)

The WHO-led ATACH is committed to realizing COP26 goals by leveraging collective influence to advance climate-resilient health systems. This alliance also focuses on identifying financing needs and aims to address the glaring disparity in financial support for the health sector.

WHO’s Urgent Call at COP28

As the world unites at COP28, the health community issues an urgent call for decisive action. Recognizing that climate action is health action, the WHO emphasizes that failure to address this reality will have profound consequences for the well-being of current and future generations.

The inaugural Health Day at COP28 signifies a historic moment where health ministers converge to prioritize health in climate discussions. The ministerial session promises to amplify the urgency for action, bringing global leaders together to implement sustainable solutions. The legacy of COP28 must be a commitment to a healthier planet, where climate action translates into tangible results for the well-being of all.

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