World Health Day 2022 will focus the world on the urgent actions needed to keep people and the planet healthy, and promote a movement to create societies focused on well-being. The World Health Organization urgently calls on leaders and all people to step up action to safeguard and protect health and wellness and mitigate the climate crisis.
In today's world, 99% of the population breathes unhealthy air caused mainly by burning fossil fuels. Global warming is making mosquitoes spread diseases faster than ever. Extreme weather events, biodiversity loss, land degradation and water scarcity are displacing people and affecting their health. From the deepest seafloor and highest mountains to our food chain and circulatory system, we find pollution and plastic present. Systems that produce highly processed, unhealthy foods and beverages are driving a wave of obesity, increasing cancer and heart disease, while producing up to one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions.
WHO noted that this health and social crisis is undermining people's ability to take control of their health and lives. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: "The climate crisis is also a health crisis: equally unsustainable choices are killing our planet and killing people. We need transformative solutions to free the world from Reliance on fossil fuels, reimagining economies and societies focused on well-being, and protecting the health of the planet on which human health depends.”
Climate-related health emergencies are on the rise in Africa, accounting for more than half of the public health events recorded in the region over the past 20 years, according to a new analysis by the World Health Organization.
Of the 2,121 public health events recorded in the African region between 2001 and 2021, 56% were climate-related. Climate-related emergencies have increased in the region, with a 25% increase in climate-related events recorded between 2011 and 2021 compared to the past decade.
Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, said: "Climate change is one of the greatest threats to humanity. With increasingly severe climate events, people's entire foundations of physical health are at risk. In Africa, frequent Floods, water-borne and vector-borne diseases are deepening the health crisis. Although the African continent contributes the least to global warming, it fully bears its consequences.”
WHO analysis found that water-borne diseases accounted for 40% of climate-related health emergencies over the past two decades. Diarrhoeal disease is the third leading cause of illness and death among children under 5 years of age in Africa. A large proportion of these deaths are preventable with safe drinking water, proper sanitation and hygiene.
The analysis also showed that vector-borne diseases, especially yellow fever, accounted for 28% of climate-related health emergencies, while zoonotic diseases, especially Congo-Crimea haemorrhagic fever, were the third most prevalent sick. Congo-Crimean haemorrhagic fever is a viral disease transmitted to humans by ticks and livestock with an outbreak fatality rate of up to 40%.
Natural disasters have also increased dramatically since 2010, with 70% of natural disasters occurring between 2017 and 2021. Flooding was the most common event, accounting for 33% of all reported natural disasters.
Africa is also grappling with other major health impacts associated with climate shocks, including malnutrition and hunger due to the impact of severe weather on agricultural production, long-term growth challenges for children, and other infectious diseases such as malaria.
In Africa, climate change is likely to expand areas of high malaria risk, according to a report by the Netherlands-based Global Centre on Adaptation. Although the number of deaths from malaria in Africa has fallen from 840,000 in 2000 to 602,000 in 2020, the disease remains a major health challenge on the continent.
WHO is calling on governments to prioritize human well-being in all key decisions, end new fossil fuel exploration and subsidies, tax polluters and implement WHO air quality guidelines.
At the same time, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the fault lines of inequality around the world, demonstrating the urgency of creating sustainable societies of well-being. Sustainable well-being societies do not push ecological boundaries and ensure that life-saving and life-enhancing tools, systems, policies and environments are accessible to all.
The WHO declaration on ensuring a healthy and green recovery from the pandemic states that protecting nature is the source of human health; investing in the development of essential services, including water and sanitation, and clean energy for health care; ensuring rapid, healthy energy transformation; promoting healthy, sustainable food systems; building healthy and livable cities.
Can we reshape a world where all people have access to clean air, water and food, where economies focus on health and well-being, where cities are livable and where people take control of their own health and the health of the planet?
World Health Day 2022 by WHO will focus the world on the urgent actions needed to keep people and the planet healthy and promote the A movement to create a society focused on well-being.
According to WHO estimates, more than 13 million people worldwide die every year from avoidable environmental causes. These include the climate crisis, the greatest health threat facing humanity. The climate crisis is also a health crisis.
Our political, social and business decisions are driving the climate and health crisis. Mainly due to the use of fossil fuels, 99% of people breathe unhealthy air. In a warming world, mosquitoes are spreading disease faster than ever and over a larger area. Extreme weather events, land degradation and water scarcity are displacing people and affecting their health. Pollutants and plastics are present on the deepest seafloor and highest mountains and have entered our food chain. Systems that produce refined, unhealthy foods and beverages are driving a wave of obesity, increasing cancer and heart disease, while also producing a third of global greenhouse gas emissions.
While the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has shown us the healing power of science, it has also highlighted the inequities in our world. The pandemic has exposed weaknesses in all areas of society and highlighted the urgency of building sustainable "well-being-focused societies" that are committed to achieving equitable health for present and future generations without breaking ecological limits. The current economic structure results in an unequal distribution of income, wealth and power, and too many people still live in poverty and instability. A well-being economy targets human well-being, equity and ecological sustainability. These goals can be translated into long-term investments, well-being-focused budgets, social protection, legal and fiscal strategies. Breaking these vicious circles of damage to the planet and human health requires support and incentives for legislative action, corporate reform and individuals to make healthy choices.