Physicians Warn Against Neglecting Health in Climate Talks

Physicians from the World Medical Association are stepping up their efforts to ensure that the health effects of climate change are not overlooked.

A WMA delegation is in Bonn, Germany for the latest round of talks that opened yesterday (Monday) on implementing the historic Climate Change Agreement that was signed in Paris in 2015. Its aim will be to monitor discussions to make sure that the well-documented impact of climate change on health is taken into consideration.

Dr. Ketan Desai, President of the WMA, said: ‘It is absolutely crucial that health receives far more attention in climate change talks. Physicians can play an essential role when it comes to alleviating the health effects of climate change. That means emphasising at all times the public health benefits of climate change mitigation activities.

‘It is crucial that work continues to implement the actions and investments needed for a sustainable low carbon future. If countries do not succeed in keeping a global temperature rise well below 2 degrees Celsius, we are at risk of facing major health effects, loss of welfare, increased poverty and social conflict’.

The talks in Bonn, which are scheduled to last ten days, will be discussing how nations can best implement the Paris agreement. So far, 144 countries out of 197 have ratified the treaty, which came into force last November.

Dr. Sofia Lindegren from the Swedish Medical Association, who is part of the WMA delegation, said: ‘With climate change we are facing a great global health crisis. But it is important to understand that with the solutions come many health benefits, such as a reduction of air pollution and a chance to combat non-communicable diseases. I believe it is important that the health care sector is represented here in Bonn. We have an important message that the health consequences of climate change simply cannot be neglected’.