Climate change and human health

Launch of Health in the Green Economy: Global Health Council 2011 Satellite Event

14 June 2011, Washington, DC

Dr Carlos Dora, WHO; Dr Maria Neira, WHO; Dr M. Akhter, Washington DC Department of Health

Many strategies to reduce climate change have large, immediate health benefits. Others may pose health risks or tradeoffs. Examined systematically, a powerful new dimension of measures to address climate change emerges.

Dr Mohammed Akhter, Director, Washington DC Department of Health

WHO’s new global review of evidence illustrates how green investments can prevent significant cardiovascular and chronic respiratory disease, obesity related conditions and cancers—and improve health equity. In low and middle income countries, where 80% of chronic disease occurs, and where urban growth is driving rapid environmental and lifestyle change, leveraging greener transport, housing and energy policies is a low-cost means of prevention.

Dr Jon Andrus, PAHO Deputy Director

In the build-up to the UN High Level Meeting on NCDs, such approaches are highly relevant. For instance: i. Energy-efficient cookstoves can reduce chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer risks among poor women; ii. Long-term studies in China and Denmark found 30% lower rates of annual mortality among urban cycle commuters, on average; iii. Climate-friendly housing can reduce risks of heat stroke and respiratory disease and iv. Greener health care facilities may reduce occupational/community exposures to toxics and carcinogens.

Mili Majumdar, Energy and Resources Institute
Dr Twisuk Punpeng, Thai Ministry of Health
Dr Sumi Mehta, Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves
Claudia Adriazola, EMBARQ/World Resources Institute