The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that climate change is a health crisis and also the biggest threat facing humanity.
The Deputy Country Representative in Nigeria, Alexander Chimbaru stated this while briefing Journalist on the sideline of the World Health Day celebration in Abuja.
According to him, this year’s theme, Our Planet, Our Health, serves as a timely reminder of the inextricable link between the planet and our health, as the burden of non-communicable and infectious diseases rises alongside the growing incidence of climate-related challenges.
“Climate change is manifesting in increasing temperatures, rising sea levels, changing rainfall patterns, and more frequent and severe extreme weather conditions. WHO estimates that more than 13 million annual deaths globally are due to avoidable environmental causes, including the climate crisis.”
Speaking further he said Governments, civil society, non-government organizations and communities need to work together, empowering one another to ensure the continued delivery of essential health services during future extreme events, while containing the growing incidence of the environment- and lifestyle-related diseases.
“In the African Region, NCDs are set to overtake communicable diseases, maternal, neonatal, and nutritional conditions combined, to become the leading cause of death by 2030. COVID-19, along with spiralling obesity, diabetes and hypertension rates, compounds the challenge, highlighting the urgency of a multi-sectoral response.”
Speaking at the briefing, the Honourable Minister of State for Health, Dr Olorunnimbe Mamora said the current impact of various environmental crises such as climate change, avoidable pollution, food and waterborne diseases, emerging and reemerging infectious diseases, and
extreme weather events on the planet’s health and every individual are increasingly difficult to ignore.
He noted that the effect of COVID-19 and the climate change crisis have unsettled the lives of many individuals across the globe, while causing profound disruptions in the global economy, supply chains and economic growth, with small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and entrepreneurs hardly hit.
“The environmental crisis has led to worsening non-communicable diseases, enhancing an ecosystem where various infectious diseases foster, worsening air quality, food
and water shortages, and deteriorating mental health illness.
These health impacts from climate change primarily affect the vulnerable and the elderly populations disproportionately, especially low-income communities, minorities, children, and
individuals with existing health conditions.”
According to the World Health Organization,
approximately 80 percent of climate change affects many children. It also impacts access to
healthcare delivery services and disrupts primary health care infrastructure, involving healthcare utilities, ambulatory care services, and communication systems, which are all critical to maintaining emergency medical treatment services. Hospital supply chains may also see disruptions, leading to shortages of essential medicines, vaccines, and medical devices.
World Health Day has been observed annually on 7 April, since 1950, to commemorate the anniversary of the founding of the World Health Organization (WHO) two years previously.