In Opinion Piece, WHO DG Calls On World Leaders To Recognize Climate Change’s Impacts On Health, Importance Of UHC

Foreign Affairs: Climate Change Is Already Killing Us
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the WHO

“As world leaders gather on Monday for the Climate Action Summit at the U.N. General Assembly, it is sadly clear that the prospect of rising global temperatures and sea levels has failed to generate a sufficient sense of urgency around climate change. What might spur leaders to action, if it were better understood, is the enormous threat that climate change already poses to human health. Climate change exacerbates chronic and contagious disease, worsens food and water shortages, increases the risk of pandemics, and aggravates mass displacement. The broad environmental effects of climate change have long been discussed as long-term risks; what’s clear now is that the health effects are worse than anticipated — and that they’re already being felt. … At the first high-level meeting on Universal Health Coverage (UHC) at the United Nations, the WHO will call on world leaders to invest not only in safe water, hygiene, and sanitation services but also in universal access to health services for chronic disease, child health, and antenatal and palliative care. Almost every disease caused or aggravated by climate change can be prevented or treated if addressed early. Unfortunately, the WHO projects that by 2030, 42 percent of the world’s population will either not have access to health services or not be able to afford them. … As world leaders gather in New York to address climate change, they should remember the threat that it poses to human health and act decisively to implement universal health coverage” (9/23).