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WHO calls for attention to relationship between climate and health

WHO calls for attention to relationship between climate and health
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Ground Report | New Delhi: Relationship between climate and health; countries have begun to prioritize health in their efforts to protect populations from the impact of climate change, but only a quarter of them have been able to fully implement their national climate and health plans or strategies, according to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO) just released.

Relationship between climate and health

According to this survey, countries report that lack of funding, the impact of COVID-19, and insufficient human resource capacity are “the main obstacles to progress”. However, the document reveals that more than three-quarters of the surveyed countries have developed or are developing national plans or strategies for health and climate change.

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About 85% of countries have designated a focal point responsible for climate and health in their ministries of health, while in 54% of countries, ministries have established a stakeholder mechanism (such as a working group or committee ) on health and climate change.

About two-thirds of the surveyed countries have carried out or are carrying out a vulnerability and adaptation to climate change and health assessment, while virtually all (94%) countries incorporate health considerations into their assessed contributions at the national level to the Paris Agreement.

Presentation at COP26

“The new WHO survey highlights how many countries are left without support and unprepared to deal with the health impacts of climate change. We are here at COP26 to urge the world to better support countries in need, and to ensure that together we do a better job of protecting people from the greatest threat to human health that we face today. today ”, affirmed the director of Environment, Climate Change, and Health of the WHO, María Neira.

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Thus, they warn that the inability of countries to protect health from climate change “is more detrimental to their most disadvantaged groups, such as ethnic minorities, poor communities, migrants and displaced people, the elderly and many women and children.” .

“The health arguments for increasing climate action are very clear. For example, almost 80% of deaths caused by air pollution could be avoided if current levels of air pollution were reduced to the WHO guidelines on air quality, ”added the Spanish María Neira.

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The WHO survey reveals that insufficient funding remains the main obstacle to the full implementation of national health and climate change plans. Human resource constraints are the second biggest obstacle, while about a third of countries identified a lack of intersectoral collaboration as a key barrier.

About half of countries report that the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed progress in the fight against climate change by diverting health personnel and resources, and “continues to threaten the capacities of national health authorities to plan and prepare for climate-related stresses and health shocks ”.

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The report also points to a potential missed opportunity to identify and optimize the health benefits of adaptation and mitigation efforts in other sectors, which could have fueled a clean and healthy recovery from COVID-19: the structural and social determinants of health. , such as education, equity, gender, urban planning, housing, energy, and transportation systems were represented in less than half of the multisectoral mechanisms established.

“The challenge now is to remove the barriers that prevent countries from finalizing and implementing the plans,” said Tara Neville, technical officer with the WHO Department of Environment, Climate Change, and Health and lead author of the survey report.

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