In its first global review of more than 100 countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) found that while around half of them have developed a strategy on the issue, fewer than one in five is spending enough to implement all of their commitments.
Joven Cagande/File
Fewer countries have health care strategies vs climate change
Pia Lee Brago (The Philippine Star) - December 6, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Protecting people’s health from dangers such as heat, stress, storms and tsunamis has never been more important, yet only one in five countries has a health care strategy to deal with climate change, according to a research of the United Nations health agency.

In its first global review of more than 100 countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) found that while around half of them have developed a strategy on the issue, fewer than one in five is spending enough to implement all of their commitments.

The WHO said most countries are doing too little about it.

“Climate change is not only racking up a bill for future generations to pay, it’s a price that people are paying for now with their health,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. “It is a moral imperative that countries have the resources they need to act against climate change and safeguard health now and in the future.”

Of the countries that conducted an assessment of climate risks to people’s health, the most common risks were heat stress, injury or death from extreme weather events.

Food and water security issues, along with vector-borne diseases such as cholera, dengue or malaria, also emerged.

Despite the countries’ findings, about 60 percent reported that the data had “little or no influence” on the allocation of human or financial resources to make the changes needed to protect people’s health.

Mainstreaming health in national and international climate processes could help access the necessary funds, the WHO suggested.

It noted that while two-thirds of nationally determined contributions to the 2015 Paris Agreement mention health as part of efforts to combat climate change and accelerate actions needed for a sustainable low carbon future, “this has not resulted in the necessary level of implementation and support.”

Previous research from WHO has found that reducing carbon emissions in line with the Paris Agreement could save about a million lives a year worldwide by 2050 through reductions in air pollution alone.

Many countries, however, are not able to take advantage of this potential, the UN agency insisted, based on data showing that fewer than one in four can demonstrate collaborations between health and the key sectors driving climate change and air pollution, namely transport, electricity generation and household energy.

HEALTH WHO
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