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First ever COP ‘Health Day’

  • Published
    26th Dec, 2023
Context

Integrating health into climate planning is not only economically prudent but also vital for the overall effectiveness and sustainability of climate actions in India.

The Urgency of Addressing Climate Change at COP28:

A Critical Global Health Crisis: The 28th UN Climate Change Conference (COP28), held in Dubai and hosted by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), took place against the backdrop of unprecedented climate challenges.

  • With record-breaking temperatures, devastating wildfires, and destructive floods, the evidence of the climate crisis is undeniable.

The Public Health Impact: The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared climate change as the greatest threat to global health in the 21st century.

  • Rising temperatures, heat stress, excessive rainfall, and more frequent extreme weather events contribute to a public health crisis.
  • Marginalized communities, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, bear the brunt of these impacts, with estimates suggesting over 100 million people could be pushed back into extreme poverty by 2030.

Heading: Health Day at COP28: A Pivotal Moment

A Global Call to Action: On December 3, the inaugural Health Day at COP28 underscored the crucial link between climate and health.

  • More than 46 million health professionals globally issued an open letter urging the COP28 Presidency and world governments to commit to an accelerated, just, and equitable phase-out of fossil fuels. The event garnered support from 143 countries.

Climate-Health Ministerial: The COP28 Presidency, WHO, the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention, and champion countries organized the first-ever climate-health ministerial.

  • Nearly 50 Ministers of Health and 110 high-level health ministerial staff gathered to outline a roadmap and opportunities for action, emphasizing the need to address the growing burden of climate change on healthcare systems.

Heading: India's Conspicuous Absence on Health Day

India's Climate Challenges: India, a country significantly impacted by climate change, did not participate in the historic Health Day at COP28. The nation has witnessed a surge in extreme weather events, ranking seventh globally for the severe impact of climate change in 2019.

  • In the first nine months of 2023, disasters claimed thousands of lives and affected crops, houses, and livestock.

Economic Risks and Public Health Challenges: The Reserve Bank of India's report highlights that as much as 4.5% of the country's GDP could be jeopardized by 2030 due to extreme heat and humidity affecting labor hours.

  • Rising air pollution, responsible for 1.6 million premature deaths in 2019, exacerbates major public health challenges like malaria, malnutrition, and diarrhoea.

Way Forward: Integrating Health into India's Climate Planning

Rural Livelihoods at Stake: Over 700 million individuals in India, largely residing in rural areas, depend directly on climate-sensitive sectors for their livelihoods. Agriculture, fisheries, forests, and natural resources such as water, biodiversity, and coastal zones are vital to their well-being.

Proactive Plans for Health: Prioritizing health in India's climate planning is not just necessary but imperative. It safeguards the well-being of vulnerable populations, enhances community resilience, and mitigates disease risks. Integrating health into climate planning is not only economically prudent, reducing healthcare costs and increasing productivity, but also strategically crucial for the overall effectiveness and sustainability of climate actions in India.

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