Climate change: WHO urges focus on health

The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Friday advised countries to give health a central priority in the Climate Change Conference (COP22), currently held in Morocco, and including it in the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

According to a WHO statement, almost one quarter of the global burden of disease and approximately 12.6 million deaths each year are attributable to avoidable environmental risk factors.

“Environmental risk, such as air, water and soil pollution, chemical exposures and ultraviolet radiation, global environmental and social changes, including climate change, exacerbate many of these risks,’’ WHO added.

It pointed out that in spite of the growing evidence of the effect of environmental risk factors on health, political action and investments remained largely insufficient.

“Only about three per cent of health resources are invested in prevention, with approximately 97 per cent that are spent on treatment and increasing healthcare costs.

“Health gains represent major social and economic benefits of environmental protection, and therefore should be put forward as key motivating forces for public support and political action,’’ it said.

Morocco, the WHO and the United Nations Environment Programme will host later in the day a ministerial meeting on health, environment and climate change.

It added that the meeting would bring together health and environment ministers to promote healthier environments for healthier people.

However, the participants were expected to identify ways and means for a potential future coalition and a adopt Marrakesh declaration on health, environment and climate change.