Climate and Environment

Southeast Asian health community calls for strong, urgent action ahead of COP26

Gaea Katreena Cabico - Philstar.com
Southeast Asian health community calls for strong, urgent action ahead of COP26
Workers clean beds inside a ward of a field hospital for Covid-19 coronavirus patients at a park in Manila on June 24, 2021.
AFP/Maria Tan

MANILA, Philippines — Health workforce in Southeast Asia responding to the harms caused by climate change called on leaders to step up climate action to avoid the biggest health threat facing humanity. 

RISE Southeast Asia Alliance for Health and Climate on Tuesday urged the ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to transform their healthcare sectors to become climate-resilient, sustainable and pandemic-prepared.

The call comes ahead of COP26, the pivotal United Nations climate conference scheduled to take place in Glasgow in the United Kingdom from October 31 to November 12.

"Wildfires, flooding, heatwaves and droughts impacting people’s health have been on the rise around the world, compounding other health challenges such as the pandemic," said Dr. Ronald Law, chief of the health department’s Health Emergency Management Bureau.

"Without strong and urgent strategies in motion towards adaptation and carbon reduction, cities and rural communities in Southeast Asia, will experience increased risk of infectious diseases and displacement of populations due to flooding, land degradation and severe typhoons as well as excess morbidity from heart attacks and stroke due to deadly heat waves, and asthma and tuberculosis aggravated by fossil fuel driven-air pollution," he added.

Law stressed that integrating health and equity into climate policy will provide nations in Southeast Asia—one of the world's most vulnerable regions to climate change—the opportunity to protect peoples’ health, maximize returns on investments, and build support for the urgently needed responses to the crisis.

The health professionals from Southeast Asia were represented in a letter that called for world leaders attending COP26 to avert the worst health impacts of the climate crisis by limiting global warming to 1.5°C, and to place health at the heart of the summit.

The publication of the letter coincides with the release of a report by the World Health Organization, which calls on countries to set ambitious national climate commitments.

The UN health agency recommended that climate interventions with the largest health gains prioritized, with health resilience included in planning. — with report from Agence France-Presse 







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