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Africa: Conflicts, Climate Crisis and Covid. The World Needs Peace for Health.

Africa: Conflicts, Climate Crisis and Covid. The World Needs Peace for Health.

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Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is the Director-General, World Health Organization (WHO), and he has announced a bold initiative for peace and health to mark World Health Day on April 7.

Today I am announcing the launch of a new global initiative, ‘Peace for Health and Health for Peace.

The initiative is based on the recognition that peace is fundamental to all our work in health, development, and tackling inter-related challenges like conflict, climate crisis, and COVID-19. It aims to foster new dialog. I will be reaching out to other United Nations agencies, civil society organizations, sporting organisations, academia, and businesses to support this initiative. It should be part a larger peacebuilding effort to help those at greatest risk of death and disease.

Multiple emergencies are affecting the world simultaneously

Jarno Habicht (WHO’s Ukraine representative) spoke to me last week about the high cost of the Russian invasion on Ukrainian citizens, the damage to hospitals and the mental and physical effects the war is having upon health workers and civilian population.

Tragically, Ukraine isn’t the only crisis facing the world. People are selling their kidneys to make it through the day in Afghanistan. One of the longest blockades ever recorded in north-east Africa has effectively stopped food, fuel, and medicine deliveries to millions of Tigray residents. This humanitarian disaster has resulted in mass starvation.

As the climate crisis worsens in many countries, multiple climatic catastrophes are occurring simultaneously. Last week, coral reefs in Australia were affected by bleaching, while other parts of Australia experienced catastrophic floods.

Meanwhile, the Covid pandemic persists, with record cases and deaths being recorded in some Asian countries and intense transmission of Omicron  – variant BA.1, followed by BA.2 – putting substantial pressure on health systems around the world.

A combination of rising conflict, worsening climate, and a prolonged pandemic has caused the ‘Doomsday Clock to become stuck at 100 seconds to midnight. This is the closest the world has been to a civilization-ending endangerment apocalypse since 1947’s clock’s creation.

It’s easy for us to feel depressed, but there are things that we can do at both the micro and macro level to make a difference.

It is urgent that we make concerted, creative efforts to change the course of history toward a more sustainable, healthy, and sustainable world in order to prevent the multidimensional crises currently facing humanity. The vast majority of the world desires a world where there is no war, where people can do useful work, have food on the table, and have access to quality education and essential health services.

There are many things we can do. For example, humanitarian corridors can be created to ensure that people have access to basic necessities such as fuel and food. As a result of contemporary conflicts, it is a worrying trend to exempt health-care facilities from being military targets.

Peace is the foundation for all that is positive in our societies.

Although conflict is relatively simple to start, finding peace is often difficult. Wars are notorious for spiraling out of control and escalating to unanticipated consequences. Peace is the foundation for all that is positive in our societies. Peace is essential for our health and peace is necessary for our peace.

War can make everything more difficult and sometimes impossible for health workers, WHO staff, and humanitarian partners on the ground.

Access to nutritious, high-quality food is a fundamental requirement for any peace initiative.

The Millennium DeclarationThe concept of peace, security, health, and development was first articulated in the Turn of the Century. Our efforts to stop a warming world and the Covid-19 epidemic have been diverted by war. These crises require international cooperation to solve.

Progress is possible even in a divided world. The USA and USSR worked together at the heights of the Cold War to eradicate smallpox. This remains one of science’s greatest achievements and offers lessons for our own existential challenges.

Although war is the dominant theme of media and decision-makers’ attention, the pandemic is not over. WHO recognizes that Coved-19 is a serious threat and is working with countries around the world to track the virus and increase immunity.

It is possible to reach the goal of vaccinating 70% of the world’s population. I am pleased to see that countries such as Nigeria, Pakistan, and Vietnam are showing that it is possible to make progress if resources and effort are focused effectively.

It is also important to strengthen the health systems so that countries can address the many problems that have risen since the pandemic. We must also prepare all countries for possible new pandemics and future concerns.

While rich countries are rolling out ‘second boosters’ – fourth doses effectively – it is unacceptable that one-third of the world’s population, including 83 percent of the people of Africa, have not received a single a single Covid vaccination.

A few wealthy people are suggesting that it is not worth it to vaccine the world according their own standards. This is seriously naive. This is seriously shortsighted. After all, the pandemic, and the resulting challenges such as supply-chain chaos remain a threat for the health, peace, and security of all.