WHO Director-General urges world leaders to protect health from climate change

WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus today visited an Ebola treatment centre in Butembo, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, that was attacked by armed groups last week and again earlier today.
WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus visited an Ebola treatment centre in Butembo, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, that was attacked by armed groups (File Photo)

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New Delhi, 11 September 2019. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has urged to world leaders to protect health from climate change. Full text of Speech by Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General is as follows –

“Climate
change is one of the defining issues of our time. It is also one of the world’s
most urgent health threats.

In less than
two weeks’ time, I will join the UN Secretary-General and other world leaders
at the Climate Action Summit at the United Nations General Assembly. This
landmark summit will showcase the concrete commitments governments are making
to address climate change and to secure and improve the health and well-being
of their citizens.

Two of those
commitments have been developed by the World Health Organization and its
partners. The first is a pledge to ensure that air meets WHO safety standards
by 2030 at the latest, and to align climate change and air pollution policies.
Many of the same practices that lead to climate change also result in deadly
air pollution.

The second
is to provide financial resources to protect people from the detrimental health
impacts of climate change. Today, less than 0.5% of international finance for
climate change is allocated to health, and the most vulnerable countries,
particularly small island developing states, receive only a fraction of that.
Countries are being asked to allocate more to protect people against the
ravages of the climate crisis.

Twelve days
remain for leaders to sign up to those commitments: I urge those who have not
yet made their commitments to join those who have pledged action to protect
people from the devastating heatwaves, floods and cyclones linked with climate
change, and to reduce the risk of malnutrition, malaria, diarrhoea, and heat
stress.

The Climate
Action Summit takes place on the same day as the UN High-Level Meeting on
Universal Health Coverage. It is significant that these events will run in
parallel. Taking steps to address and mitigate the impacts of climate change,
and to ensure that everyone can access the health services they need, when and
where they need them, are two of the top priorities in global public health.

Only when countries can provide health services to all, including those in greatest jeopardy from climate change, will we achieve our goals of promoting health, keeping the world safe, and protecting the vulnerable.”

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