November 18, 2015

Huge annual deaths from climate change worries WHO

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has called on countries to take urgent measures to prevent avoidable deaths from the climate change, which has claimed tens of thousands of lives.

The global health organisation said in a statement, made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos, that the occurrence was a shift from the regular pattern of diseases.

The world body expressed worry over the estimated tens of thousands of deaths occurring every year due to climate change.

The body explained that deaths from this climate change resulted from shifting patterns of disease, extreme weather events, such as heat-waves and floods as well as degradation of air quality, food, water supplies and sanitation.

WHO, estimated that in 2012, seven million people died from air pollution-related diseases, making it the world’s largest single environmental health risk.

The WHO said that in Nigeria, implementing measures to reduce short-lived climate pollutants, could prevent 70,000 premature deaths per year from outdoor air pollution, from 2030 onward.

“It is predicted that climate change will cause additional 25,000 deaths per year from malaria, diarrhoea, heat stress and under-nutrition between 2030 and 2050.

“Children, women and the poor in lower income countries will be the most vulnerable and most affected, widening health gaps.

“Not only are ways to combat climate change already known and well-documented, they can bring important health gains,’’ the statement read in part.

It suggested that investments in low-carbon development, clean renewable energy and strengthening climate resilience would be beneficial to health.

“Implementing proven interventions to reduce emissions of short-lived climate pollutants, like black carbon and methane, will be expected to save approximately 2.4 million lives a year and reduce global warming by about 0.5°C by 2050.

“Placing a price on polluting fuels to compensate negative health impacts is expected to cut outdoor air pollution deaths by half.

“It will also reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 20 per cent,’’ WHO stated.

The World health body said that strengthening health resilience to climate risks would ensure that recent progress against climate-sensitive diseases was not slowed or reversed.

Such measures included early-warning systems for more frequent and severe heat waves, and protection of water, sanitation, and hygiene services against floods and droughts.

NAN reports that WHO, in collaboration with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Secretariat and other partners, has launched the first set of Climate Change and Health Country Profiles for 14 countries.

This is to empower ministers of health and other decision-makers to advocate for health in the upcoming climate negotiations.

The countries profiled included Bangladesh, Brazil, Nigeria, Colombia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malaysia, Morocco, Oman, Peru, Philippines, Thailand and United Republic of Tanzania. (