The theme “protecting health from climate change” puts health at the centre of the global dialogue about climate change. WHO selected this theme in recognition that climate change is posing ever growing threats to global public health security.
Through increased collaboration, the global community will be better prepared to cope with climate-related health challenges worldwide. Examples of such collaborative actions are: strengthening surveillance and control of infectious diseases, ensuring safer use of diminishing water supplies, and coordinating health action in emergencies.
The health impacts of climate change are already evident in different ways: more people are dying from excessive heat than before, changes are occurring in the incidence of vector-borne diseases, and the pattern of natural disasters is altering.
These impacts will be disproportionately greater in vulnerable populations, which include the very young, elderly, medically infirm, poor and isolated populations. Vulnerability is also high in:
- areas with a high endemicity of climate-sensitive diseases, severe water scarcity, and low food production;
- small-island developing states and mountainous regions; and
- megacities and coastal areas in developing countries.
Action needs to be taken now
The health impacts of climate change will be difficult to reverse in a few years or decades. Yet, many of these possible impacts can be avoided or controlled. There are established steps in health and related sectors to reduce the exposure to and the effect of changing climate. For example, controlling disease vectors, reducing pollution from transport, and efficient land use and water management are well-known and tested measures that can help.
Moreover, many of the steps needed to prevent climate change have positive health benefits. For example, increased use of bicycles and public transport instead of personal cars in industrialized countries will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It will also improve air quality and lead to better respiratory health and fewer premature deaths. The increase in physical activity from cycling and walking may lead to less obesity and fewer obesity-related illness. The sooner these steps are taken, the greater their impact will be on public health.
History of World Health Day :
In 1948, the First World Health Assembly called for the creation of a "World Health Day" to mark the founding of the World Health Organization. Since 1950, World Health Day has been celebrated on the 7th of April annually. Each year a theme is selected for World Health Day that highlights a priority area of concern for WHO.
World Health Day is a worldwide opportunity to focus on key public health issues that affect the international community. World Health Day launches longer-term advocacy programmes that continue well beyond 7 April.
WHO Director-General : Dr Margaret Chan
source : WHO website