Climate Change

CoP26: 47 countries commit to make climate-resilient health systems

42 countries also commit to making their health systems more sustainable and low-carbon

By DTE Staff
Published: Tuesday 09 November 2021

Climate change has ascertained over and over again the need to have robust and resilient health systems. Now, a group of 47 countries have committed to develop climate-resilient and low-carbon health systems at the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties (CoP26) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The commitment was made part of CoP26 Health Programme, which is supported by the United Kingdom government as the Presidency of COP26, the World Health Organization (WHO), Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) and the UNFCCC Climate Champions.

The programme comprises 47 countries — including Bangladesh, Bhutan, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. At least 42 have also committed to transform their health systems to make them more sustainable and low-carbon; 12 said they will reach Net Zero carbon emissions on or before 2050.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general, WHO, said:

The future of health must be built on health systems that are resilient to the impacts of epidemics, pandemics and other emergencies, but also to the impacts of climate change, including extreme weather events and the increasing burden of various diseases related to air pollution and our warming planet.

The move comes in the backdrop of WHO health and climate change global survey report, 2021, which found that only three-quarters of surveyed countries have developed or are currently developing national health and climate change plans or strategies.

Some 85 per cent countries have a designated focal point responsible for health and climate change in their ministries of health. In 54 per cent countries, the ministry of health has established a stakeholder mechanism (such as a task force or committee) on health and climate change, the report said.

The message from WHO and health professionals around the globe is clear: Climate change is a huge health challenge and we need to act now, said Wendy Morton, minister for Europe and Americas, in the United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.

He added that strong leadership from the health sector is vital to make sure we protect our populations from the impacts of climate change by enhancing the climate resilience of health systems, and by reducing emissions from the health sector.

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