The letter states that health professionals and workers have an ethical obligation to speak up about the rapidly growing crisis. It could be more severe and lasting than the Covid-19 pandemic. “Those nations and people who have most benefited from the activities that caused climate crisis, especially fossil fuel extraction, and use, have a great obligation to help those most in danger.”
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (WHO Director-General) stated in the report’s introduction that protecting health requires action beyond the health sector. He also noted that actions must be taken in energy, transport and finance. “The ten recommendations outlined in this report — and the action points, resources and case studies that support them — provide concrete examples of interventions that, with support, can be scaled up rapidly to safeguard our health and our climate.”
Similar to the Covid-19 pandemic in 2004, the climate crisis has had devastating ripple effects on society and the economy. It has impacted the lives of people, decreased worker productivity, and stressed infrastructure and health services. Both crises have revealed the inequalities that have made certain communities more vulnerable than others.
Maria Neira, director of WHO’s Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health, stated in a press release that “Even though they have been fighting to end the Covid-19 epidemic, health leaders around the world have been sounding alarm on climate change.” “It is high time we listened.”
The WHO special report includes recommendations on prioritizing climate intervention with the highest gains, building climate resilient and environmentally sustainable health system, and promoting sustainable food production and sustainable urban design and transportation systems.
Tedros wrote that the recommendations were the result of extensive consultations among health professionals, organizations, and stakeholders around the world and represent a broad consensus statement urging governments and other government agencies to take action to address the climate crisis, restore biodiversity and protect the health.
The report was written “in memory of Ella Kissi-Debrah — and all other children who have suffered and died from air pollution and climate change.”
Kissi-Debrah, who was 9 years old when he succumbed to asthma, is believed to be the first person to have air pollution listed in a landmark coroner’s ruling. Kissi-Debrah was a resident of southeast London near the South Circular, one of the busiest roads in the UK capital.
As world leaders prepare for this year’s UN climate talks, health care leaders are urging heads of states to expand their international climate commitments to tackle the current public health crises brought by a warming world — and to prevent future ones.
Tedros wrote that “the health arguments for rapid climate change action have never been more clear.” “I hope this report can help policymakers from all sectors and around to implement the necessary transformative changes.”