A group of 50 countries pledged to develop climate-resilient, low-carbon health systems at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow (COP26), in response to growing evidence of the impact of climate change on human health.
The governments of these 50 countries, which include some of the most vulnerable to health damage from climate change as well as some of the world’s largest carbon emitters, have committed to taking concrete steps to create climate-resilient health systems. .
Forty-five of these countries are also committed to transforming their health systems to be more sustainable and lower in carbon. Fourteen have set a target date to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
The commitments were made within the framework of the COP26 Health Program, a partnership between the UK government, the World Health Organization (WHO), climate champions of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and health groups, such as Health Care Without Harm .
âThe future of health must rest 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 growing burden of various pollution-related diseases. of the air and our warming planet, âsaid Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization.
âHealth systems must also be part of the solution, reducing carbon emissions. We applaud countries that are committed to building climate-resilient and low-carbon health systems, and we hope to see many more follow their example in the near future. ”
Countries that are committed to building sustainable and low-carbon health systems are Argentina, Fiji, Malawi, Spain, United Arab Emirates, United States of America and 39 others. Countries that are committed to improving the climate resilience of their health systems are Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Maldives, the Netherlands and 45 others.
The government of Fiji, for example, is responding to increasing cyclones, flash floods and rising sea levels causing a shortage of potable water due to saltwater intrusion, by building more climate resilient health infrastructure, strengthening the health workforce and providing health care. health care facilities with sustainable energy services.
âThe message from WHO and healthcare professionals around the world is clear: Climate change is a huge health challenge and we must act now. I am really happy to see so many countries prioritizing this issue through the COP26 Health Program and their level of ambition. Strong leadership from the health sector is essential to ensure that we protect our populations from the impacts of climate change by improving the climate resilience of health systems and reducing emissions from the health sector, âsaid Wendy Morton, Minister Europe and the Americas, UK Department of Foreign, Commonwealth and Development.
Country commitments stem from a WHO survey, launched this week, which shows that the majority of countries now include health in their national climate plans under the Paris Agreement, but that the plans often still lack detailed health actions or support mechanisms.
âThese government commitments illustrate the growing global health movement for climate action. Around the world, doctors, nurses, hospitals, health systems and ministries of health are reducing their climate footprint, becoming more resilient and advocating for a just transition that places health at the center of a carbon-free civilization â said Josh Karliner, international director of the program. and Strategy for health care without prejudice.
In addition to national commitments, 54 institutions from 21 countries representing more than 14,000 hospitals and health centers have joined the UNFCCC Race to zero and determined to achieve zero net emissions.
A record number of health leaders are attending the UN climate conference COP26, and more than 45 million health professionals, representing two-thirds of the health workforce globally, have signed a letter urging governments to take stronger action, noting that âhospitals, clinics and communities around the world have already responded to the damage to health caused by climate changeâ.
Note to editors:
About the COP26 Health Program
Health has been selected as one of the three priority scientific areas for COP26 by the UK government. As part of the COP26 Health Program, the Presidency of COP26 works alongside the WHO, Safe health care (HCWH) and the UNFCCC Climate Champions involve countries and stakeholders on climate and health.
The COP26 health agenda was established to reinforce the COP26 health focus and ambition. Initiatives under the COP26 health program include:
Â· Build resilient health systems to climate change.
Â· Developing sustainable health systems with low carbon emissions.
Â· Research of adaptation for health.
Â· Inclusion of health priorities in Nationally Determined Contributions.
Â· Make the voice of health professionals heard as advocates for a stronger ambition on climate change.
As part of the first commitment area of ââthe COP26 health agenda, countries committed to conduct climate change and health vulnerability assessments, and to develop national adaptation plans for health.
Under the second engagement area of ââthe program, high ambition / high emitter countries commit to setting a target date for achieving net zero emissions health systems and developing an action plan or scorecard. road to achieving sustainable and low-carbon health systems.
The latter is important for global mitigation efforts: the health sector accounts for 10% of global GDP and contributes substantially to greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for around 4.6%.
A list of all country commitments will be available on the WHO website, here.
The countries that have joined the COP26 Health Program are:
Central African Republic
Lao People’s Democratic Republic
Sao Tome and Principe
United Arab Emirates
united states of america
âThe health co-benefits of climate actions are well demonstrated and offer a strong case for transformative change. Â»Director of Public Health, Dr Morenike Alex-Okoh, MoH, Nigeria.
âThe government of Malawi recognizes the essential role of the health sector in ensuring the success of COP26 and is committed to strengthening the climate resilience of its health systems, while developing low carbon health systemsâ¦ agreement â, the Hon. Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda, Minister of Health, Malawi.
“The effects and extreme damage of climate change on the public health of the population of Sao Tome and Principe require urgent multisectoral integrated measures and actions alongside the engagement of communities with partners, to ensure low emissions and increase resilience, both on the national health system. “- Edgar Manuel Agostinho Azevedo das Neves, Minister of Health, Sao Tome and Prinicpe.
âIn the midst of the pandemic, we have had to recover from extreme weather events and manage the resulting health impacts. [It] has shown us that healthcare systems and facilities are the primary line of defense in protecting populations against emerging threats … and that now is the time to increase our commitment to a safer, more sustainable and sustainable future. more inclusive for all. Hon. Ifereimi Waqainabete, Minister of Health and Medical Services, Fiji.
“This commitment is an important step for us to continue the current efforts and accelerate the implementation of adaptation and mitigation actions” Phonepaseuth Ounaphom, Director of Hygiene and Health Promotion Department, Ministry of Health, Lao People’s Democratic Republic.
âThe Maldives health sector is fully committed to implementing the National Green and Smart Hospitals Policy and Strategy to establish a climate resilient health system with environmentally friendly technologies, which is resulting in energy efficient services and a low carbon footprint. Ahmed Naseem, Minister of Health, Maldives.
âThe Ministry of Health and Prevention, in partnership with WHO, has launched a comprehensive and multisectoral national framework for action on climate change and health in order to develop a sectoral adaptation plan. The UAE is also working to reduce emissions and develop an action plan for a low carbon health system. “HE Dr Hussain Abdulrahman Al Rand, Assistant Under Secretary for Public Health, Ministry of Health and Prevention, United Arab Emirates.
âClimate change is a recent health crisis in Nepal and a moral issue with regard to the fundamental rights of the Nepalese people to enjoy good health. Improving the climate resilience and environmental sustainability of health services and facilities, and a commitment to act together to build climate resilient health systems are imperative to minimize the impacts of climate change on health. “- Dr Samir Kumar Adhikari, Head of Multisectoral Coordination, Ministry of Health and Population, Nepal.