WHO Sponsors Event At Copenhagen Conference To Highlight Climate Change Effect On Public Health

The WHO held a “side event” on Thursday at the U.N. climate change conference in Copenhagen to highlight climate change’s effect on public health, CNN reports. “We’re reminding people that climate change is not just an environmental issue or an economic issue – it’s a health issue that’s actually about people’s survival,” Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum, a scientist in the WHO’s Public Health and Environment department, said of the event. 

According to Maria Neira, the WHO’s director of Public Health and Environment, “The major killers at the moment are all climate-sensitive.” She added, “Malnutrition kills 3.5 million people a year, diarrheal diseases kill two million people a year, and malaria kills almost one million people each year. Global warming will probably exacerbate these problems.”

Policy makers are beginning to understand the health benefits of “climate change mitigation strategies,” Neira said, adding that she welcomed the recent EPA announcement that declared greenhouse-gas emissions as a “public health threat.” The article also includes quotes from Andy Haines, director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who recently published a study in the Lancet highlighting the health benefits of some strategies used to cut greenhouse-gas emissions (Tutton, 12/17).