Climate change and human health

WHO launches country profiles to help action on health and climate change

16 November 2015, Geneva - Today WHO releases the first set of Climate Change and Health Country Profiles including Bangladesh, Brazil, Colombia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malaysia, Morocco, Nigeria, Oman, Peru, Philippines, Tanzania and Thailand and a Global overview of the trends in climate change and health that we can expect to experience, depending on our collective level of ambition and effectiveness.

The profiles provide a single snapshot of up-to-date information about the current and future impacts of climate change on human health, current policy responses at country level and opportunities for health co-benefits from climate mitigation actions, such as shifting to cleaner energy sources for electricity generation and household use, and increasing use of public transport, walking and biking.

WHO

In order to empower Ministers of Health and other decision-makers to contribute to the upcoming climate negotiations, WHO, in collaboration with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Secretariat and other partners is compiling consistent information at global and at country level on health risks from climate change, and potential health benefits of adaptation and mitigation policies. Climate change is the defining issue for the 21st century. WHO data estimates it is already causing tens of thousands of deaths every year from shifting patterns of disease, from extreme weather events, such as heat-waves and floods, and from the degradation of air quality, food and water supplies, and sanitation.

In 2012, WHO estimated 7 million people died from air pollution-related diseases, largely from the products of combustion of fossil fuels, which are also driving climate change. Climate change is also projected to cause an additional 250 000 deaths per year from malaria, diarrhoea, heat stress and under-nutrition between 2030 and 2050. Children, women and the poor in developing countries will be the most vulnerable.

The evidence presented today also shows how responding to climate change also brings opportunities for health gains. Strengthening health resilience to climate risks, including measures such as early-warning systems for more frequent and severe heatwaves, and protection of water, sanitation, and hygiene services against floods and droughts, would ensure that recent progress against climate-sensitive diseases, is not slowed or reversed.

Placing a price on polluting fuels that reflected their health impacts would be expected to cut outdoor air pollution deaths by approximately half, reduce carbon dioxide emissions by over 20%, and raise approximately $3 trillion per year in revenue – over half the total value of health spending by all of the world’s governments.

This evidence will further empower the health community to lend their voice to a climate change agreement that will slow and eventually halt human disruption of the climate, avoid unacceptable risks to human health, and secure the wellbeing of future generations.

These Country Profiles would also form the basis for longer-term monitoring of climate change health impacts and opportunities after 2015.