MOSCOW, August 27 (RIA Novosti) - The World Health Organization (WHO) is warning governments and the public of the negative effects that global warming is already having on people’s health, calling for urgent action, according to a press release published Wednesday.
“The evidence is overwhelming: climate change endangers human health,” WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan said at a global conference on health and climate change, which opened in Geneva on Wednesday.
Dr. Chan suggested that countries need to “act decisively to change this trajectory,” as the air pollution and shifting patterns of disease caused by extreme weather events, lack of water and poor sanitation are claiming hundreds of thousands of lives per year.
Another WHO official, Dr. Maria Neira, added that “reducing climate change can yield substantial and immediate health benefits.”
According to WHO, changes in energy and transport policies could save “millions of lives,” as in 2012 air pollution alone resulted in a death toll of seven million worldwide. The burden of climate-sensitive diseases, including cholera, malaria and dengue fever could also be reduced by the right policy changes.
The conference, which included over 300 participants, is being held on August 27-29 at WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. The objectives of the conference include empowering national health and sustainable development authorities, NGOs and the private sector to protect people’s health from climate change; and identifying the health benefits that come from reducing air pollution and supporting the relevant policies. The WHO climate conference precedes the UN Climate Summit, scheduled for September 2014.