Viewpoint: Health: The Glaring Omission at COP21

Friday, December 4, 2015

Malaria in Europe? It sounds quite implausible doesn’t it but such a scenario may not be too far off. The disease is currently confined to Africa, Latin America and South-East Asia, but the impacts of climate change on the health of individuals and populations, combined with the globalization of trade, could see it spread to parts of southern Europe. This scenario will happen if the issue of health is still ignored by world leaders meeting this week for the United Nations climate change conference in Paris.

Such an omission from the summit’s agenda is hard to comprehend given the gravity of the problem. The figures speak for themselves: the World Health Organization (WHO) predicts that by 2030, we will see hundreds of thousands of deaths worldwide annually due to climate change – be it from the effects of natural disasters, malnutrition, or the rise of infectious diseases.

The consequences of global warming are already in evidence today, as highlighted in the Lancet’s 2015 Health and Climate Change Commission Report. To make matters worse, those most likely to be affected are also the most vulnerable: the poor, the young, the elderly and women.

The world’s leaders have no time to waste. A central platform at the conference should be provided for the issue of climate change’s impact on health. It should be self-evident that health needs to be a key consideration when developing climate policy, but it is all too often clouded by other issues.

Source: The Huffington Post (link opens in a new window)

Health Care
climate change, infectious diseases