Addressing Climate Change's Impact on Health
There is now persuasive evidence demonstrating the numerous health risks posed by climate change, which threatens populations of both low and high-income countries. These health effects include more frequent heatwaves, flooding and extreme weather events. Less direct impacts also include worsening food security, malnutrition and population displacement. Addressing climate change is also considered to be an opportunity to improve global health in the 21st century due to the significant health co-benefits of low-carbon solutions.
The World Medical Association follows the United Nations climate change negotiations so that the well-documented impact of climate change on health, as well as the public health benefits of climate change mitigation activities, are taken into consideration. Physicians advocate for making health an inherent component of the climate change debate and for an effective and ambitious implementation of the Paris Agreement adopted in December 2015.
In May 2020, the WMA joined the 40 million health professionals’ call to G20 leaders to put public health at the core of Covid-19 recovery. In the biggest health community mobilisation since the run-up to the 2015 Paris climate agreement, over 350 medical groups ask governments to prioritise investments in public health, clean air, clean water and a stable climate in the economic stimulus packages currently under consideration. Such investments would reduce air pollution and climate-warming emissions, which damage human health, build greater resilience to future pandemics, and simultaneously create more sustainable jobs. “Health professionals are at the frontlines of this emergency, and we are seeing the immense loss of lives because of acting too late. We know now more than ever, that healthy lives depend on a healthy planet. As we walk on the road to recovery, we cannot ignore that we need to build a system in place that will protect us from further damage. That is why it is important that governments take into consideration public health when they are discussing recovery packages. We need a comprehensive approach, a healthy and green recovery and we need it now” said Dr. Miguel R. Jorge, President of the World Medical Association.