World Health Day: Let’s act for the climate and take care of others

In its call to action, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a shocking report on Monday stating that 99% of people breathe unhealthy air, mainly caused by burning fossil fuels.

“The climate crisis is a health crisis: the same unsustainable decisions that are killing our planet are killing people,” said WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

The agency estimates that more than thirteen million people die each year from environmental causes that could be avoided.

WHO/Yoshi Shimizu

A woman returning from a field in Port Vila, Vanuatu.

Health and social crisis

The United Nations health agency warned in its report that the world, which continues with a process of constant warming, sees how mosquito-borne diseases they are spreading further and faster than ever before.

At the same time, extreme weather events, biodiversity loss, land degradation and water scarcity are displacing people and affecting health, while pollution and plastics at the bottom of oceans and in mountains found more often in food chains and in people’s bodies.

Add to all these factors highly processed and unhealthy foods and drinks that are making large numbers of people obese, increasing the number of cancers and heart disease, while their production generates up to a third of global greenhouse gas emissions. Greenhouse. .

These health and social crises compromise people’s ability to take charge of their health and their lives, the Organization pointed out.

COVID-19 forces us to think about healthier societies

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed inequalities around the world, highlighting the urgency of creating sustainable and healthy societies that do not push environmental boundaries.

We must ensure that all people have access to tools, systems, policies and environments that save and improve livesthe body said.

The Organization’s Manifesto for a healthy recovery from the pandemic recommends protecting and preserving nature as the main source of human health.

It advocates investing in essential services – from water and sanitation to clean energy in healthcare facilities – ensuring a rapid and healthy energy transition, promoting healthy and sustainable food systems, building healthy cities livable and preventing taxpayers’ money from funding pollution.

In addition, the Geneva Charter for Wellbeing outlines what global commitments are needed to achieve just social and health outcomes, now and for future generations, and without destroying the health of our planet.

Members of "Group of Vegetable Producers Selam" work in an orchard.  Local youth are vulnerable to migration and the horticulture business helps them create self-employment opportunities in Kalu, Ethiopia.

FAO/Tamiru Legesse

Members of the “Selam Vegetable Producers Group” working in a vegetable garden. Local youth are vulnerable to migration and the horticulture business helps them create self-employment opportunities in Kalu, Ethiopia.

Promote sustainable living

At a time of multiple conflicts around the planet, the World Health Organization commemorates the day of its founding with the launch of the “Our Planet, Our Health” campaign, which aims to reinvent and reorganize the criteria for creating healthier societies.

“We need transformative solutions to rid the world of its dependence on fossil fuels, to rethink economies and societies centered on well-being, and to preserve the health of the planet on which human health depends”, said underlined Tedros.

Health changes will lead to increased migration due to climatic causes

The Director General of the International Organization for Migration joined in the celebration and recalled in his message that in 2020, environmental factors and natural disasters caused the displacement of more than 30 million people.

“Displaced people are more exposed to stressors that affect their mental health and psychosocial well-being. These vulnerabilities are often exacerbated by limited access to healthcare,” said António Vitorino.

The head of the Organization stressed that climate-related health risks will occur with increasing frequency, favoring climate-related migration.

To mitigate this option, he proposed building climate-resilient health systems that protect people from the threats caused by climate change.

What can we do to protect the planet?

Taking advantage of the celebration, the World Health Organization has compiled a long list of actions to protect our planet. The list includes guidance for participation from governments, businesses, workers and health facilities, mayors and individuals.

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