6 May 2023
The upcoming 28th Conference of Parties (COP28) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is set to assess health issues in great detail. COP28, which will be held in Dubai this November, will dedicate a day to health, making it the first COP to focus on health issues in such depth. The conference is also expected to host a health and climate ministerial. The decision was made after years of discussions highlighting the impact of climate change on public health.
Worsening Climate Change Crisis Threatens Health Systems
The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted existing fissures in the world’s health systems that will only widen as the climate change crisis worsens. A warming world will exacerbate to the prevailing high disease burden. Increased disasters such as heatwaves, floods, and droughts will lead to more illnesses, while rising temperatures will allow vector-borne diseases to survive at higher latitudes and impact a larger population.
Calls for Action and Investment in Climate Resilient Health Systems
The anticipated Health Day at COP28 is expected to stimulate an impartial increase in climate action and guarantee the establishment of a future where people can prosper. Direct damage costs to health are estimated to be between $2-4 billion per year by 2030, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO has also highlighted the dangerous climate and health nexus, emphasizing that the effects of global warming will accelerate unless there is action to tackle the root cause of climate change. These factors make it critical to adopt strategies to mitigate the impact of climate change, such as investing in climate resilient health systems and having a well-trained and decentrally paid health workforce.
Alliance for Transformative Action on Climate and Health
In 2021, the WHO and the United Kingdom COP26 presidency established the Alliance for Transformative Action on Climate and Health, with 60 countries as signatories. It identified four primary areas to focus on, such as:
- Funding health-related efforts for sustainable and resilient low-carbon health systems
- Enhancing the resilience of health systems to climate change
- Implementing sustainable and low-carbon health systems
- Establishing sustainable supply chains
COP27 held in Egypt last year referred to the need for governments’ climate action to respect and promote human rights, including the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.