WHO: 250,000 People Will Die Annually Due to Climate Change

English Section / 22 septembrie

WHO: 250,000 People Will Die Annually Due to Climate Change

Versiunea în limba română

Pollution is significantly affecting our health. The climate crisis is increasingly becoming a public health crisis, officials warned this week in New York, calling for improvements in preparedness, research, and resilience to address the two central priorities at the UN General Assembly, as reported by the Thomson Reuters Foundation. Combating climate change and improving public health are the key focal points among the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals for 2030, as governments strive to make progress on the 17 primary goals, of which only 15% are on track in a world affected by crises. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an additional 250,000 people are estimated to die each year due to climate change, while statistics show that one in four deaths can be attributed to "environmentally preventable causes." According to the UN agency, rising temperatures, extreme weather events, air pollution, wildfires, and less secure water and food supplies not only lead to loss of human life but also exacerbate infectious and other diseases, cause heat-related health issues, and affect pregnant women. "Do not doubt, it is the use of fossil fuels that is causing the climate change that is killing us," said Vanessa Kerry, the special envoy for climate change and health at the WHO, during an event at the New York Climate Week. For the first time this year, the UN Climate COP28 summit, which will start at the end of November in Dubai, will have a dedicated day for health and a ministerial-level discussion on climate and health. The negative effects resulting from the convergence of climate risks and health threaten to undermine other key plans on the sustainable development agenda, including poverty reduction and women's rights, experts have warned. The World Bank estimates that by 2030, up to 132 million people will be pushed into poverty due to the climate's impact on health, and up to 1.2 billion people will be displaced by 2050. Maliha Khan, president and CEO of Women Deliver, emphasized that the burden of adapting to climate change often falls on girls and women, who may be pulled out of school or forced to work more when male family members migrate due to climate pressures. Khan called for full sexual and reproductive rights and healthcare services to help women cope with the effects of climate change. "Legally, we cannot fail them by denying them services that would allow them to become more resilient in the face of the climate crisis," she said at another event on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. Pascal Barollier, a representative of GAVI, the international organization focused on expanding access to vaccines, highlighted the impact of heat on vector-borne diseases and yellow fever in Africa. Barollier called for additional research on the links between climate change and health. "It's good that we have strong speeches about the link between climate and health, but if we can't really measure (the impact), it will be harder to justify investments," he said. From an increase in dengue fever cases in South Asia to the spread of the West Nile virus in West Africa and Europe, scientists are concerned about the changing pattern of mosquito-borne diseases as average temperatures rise in many parts of the world. The healthcare sector itself, responsible for approximately 5% of total greenhouse gas emissions, also needs to reduce its carbon footprint and adapt as demand and pressures grow, said Vanessa Kerry from the WHO. "It starts with investing in a healthcare workforce that can handle this increasing burden of diseases we will face," she added. Non-profit health organizations and other groups are in the process of creating new programs to address the adverse effects of climate on health and educate the public about this connection. The non-profit organization Americares has partnered with Harvard University to better prepare community clinics that often serve low-income and uninsured patients, who are often disproportionately affected by extreme weather events like intense heat.