Today is World Health Day. In the midst of a pandemic, a polluted planet, increasing diseases like cancer, asthma, heart disease, it is a day dedicated to focusing global attention on urgent actions needed to keep humans and the planet healthy.
The theme for this year is “Our planet, our health”.
Climate change has been described as the biggest global health threat of the 21st century, with a high frequency of climate-related health hazards and fatalities due to malnutrition, and increased propagation of vector-borne diseases such as malaria, dengue and heat stress, among others.
WHO estimates that more than 13 million deaths around the world each year are due to avoidable environmental causes. This includes the climate crisis which is the single biggest health threat facing humanity. The climate crisis is also a health crisis.
Our political, social and commercial decisions are driving the climate and health crisis.
Over 90% of people breathe unhealthy air resulting from burning of fossil fuels. A heating world is seeing mosquitos spread diseases farther and faster than ever before. Extreme weather events, land degradation and water scarcity are displacing people and affecting their health.
Pollution and plastics are found at the bottom of our deepest oceans, the highest mountains, and have made their way into our food chain. Systems that produce highly processed, unhealthy foods and beverages are driving a wave of obesity, increasing cancer and heart disease while generating a third of global greenhouse gas emissions.
While the COVID-19 pandemic showed us the healing power of science, it also highlighted the inequities in our world.
The pandemic has revealed weaknesses in all areas of society and underlined the urgency of creating sustainable well-being societies committed to achieving equitable health now and for future generations without breaching ecological limits.
The present design of the economy leads to inequitable distribution of income, wealth and power, with too many people still living in poverty and instability. A well-being economy has human well-being, equity and ecological sustainability as its goals.
Africa’s climate is changing, as evidenced by rising temperatures, fluctuating rainfall, rising sea levels and flooding, drought and desertification, land degradation, more frequent extreme weather events, dwindling freshwater resources, and biodiversity loss.
Rainfall variability is expected to rise further. Droughts have also become a regular occurrence in many parts of the continent. They are projected to persist due to decreased precipitation and increased temperature. Lake Chad and other lakes in the country are drying up and facing extinction, as a result of climate change.
The use of fossil fuels such as oil, gas, and coal is the primary cause of climate change. When fossil fuels are used, they emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, causing the world to overheat.
Climate change is real, and we’re starting to see some of the ways it affects us.
According to UNEP’s Climate Change Coordinator, Niklas Hagelberg, “Action is required from all of us to address the climate disaster.
“By 2050, we need to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. Everyone has a responsibility to play,” he said.
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