1 July 2015 – WHO and WMO have issued new joint guidance on heat–health warning systems to address the health risks posed by heatwaves, which are becoming more frequent and more intense as a result of climate change.
The length, frequency and intensity of heatwaves will likely increase over most land areas during this century, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. In recent weeks alone, both India and Pakistan have been hit by deadly heatwaves, killing hundreds of people. The European heatwaves in the northern hemisphere summer of 2003 was responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of people, as were the Russian heatwaves, forest fires and associated air pollution in 2010.
The 2015 Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change has been formed to map out the impacts of climate change, and the necessary policy responses, in order to ensure the highest attainable standards of health for populations worldwide. This Commission is multidisciplinary and international in nature, with strong collaboration between academic centres in Europe and China.
“Country Profiles for Health and Climate Change” presented at the UNFCCC Bonn Conference, 2 June 2015
Through these country profiles, WHO and the UNFCCC Secretariat aim to support countries to reach a positive outcome for health and for the climate system, by providing evidence and arguments to empower Ministries of Health to engage in the preparations of national positions before the final COP21 negotiations in December.
Climate change and human health
WHO has an active and long-standing programme on protecting health from climate change, guided by a World Health Assembly resolution. Through its country, regional and headquarters offices, WHO provides evidence and supports capacity building and implementation projects to strengthen the health system response to climate change, and to ensure that health is appropriately considered in decisions made by other sectors, such as energy and transport. The Organization also provides the health-sector voice within the overall UN response to this global challenge.