A call for national governments to provide designated funds for the strengthening of health systems to combat climate change has come from the World Medical Association.
In a policy statement adopted at its annual Assembly in Chicago, the WMA emphasises the urgency for taking action and for emergency planning on local, national and international levels.
WMA President Dr. Yoshitake Yokokura said: ‘With the next United Nations conference on climate change less than a month away, it is important that the voice of the world’s physicians is heard about the risks posed to health by climate change’.
The WMA says that human influence on the climate system is clear, with recent emissions of green-house gases the highest in history. Recent climate changes have had widespread impact on human and natural systems. Compelling evidence proves numerous health risks which threaten all countries. These include more frequent and potentially more severe heatwaves, droughts, floods, storms and bushfires.
Climate change, especially warming, is already leading to changes in the environment in which disease paths flourish. There is reduced availability and quality of potable water, and worsening food insecurity leading to malnutrition and population displacement. And although climate change is universal, its effects are uneven, with many of the areas most affected the least able to manage the challenges it poses. Those with generally the poorest health and lowest life and health expectancy will be least able to adapt to the adverse effects of climate.
Dr. Yokokura said: ‘We are also urging national governments to provide for the health and wellbeing of people displaced by environmental causes, including those becoming refugees because of the consequences of climate change’.