Health and climate change on the agenda at COP16

WHO/Bettina Menne

Dr Bujar Osmani, Minister of Health of The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia spoke of how climate change affects health at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Cancún, Mexico

Yesterday, Dr Bujar Osmani, Minister of Health of The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia outlined the health effects of climate change and the strategy that his country has adopted to address them, at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Cancún, Mexico.

“Climate change does and will affect the basic requirements for maintaining human health, including clean air and water, sufficient food and adequate shelter. These changes directly and indirectly influence people’s health, which is why efforts need to be focused on evaluating the current and future vulnerabilities of people’s health, in order to identify the necessary interventions. Both adaptation and mitigation are needed now,” said Dr Osmani.

In a side event organized by the Government of Mexico and WHO, he explained how a WHO/Europe pilot initiative in The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and six other countries has conducted a vulnerability assessment of the current and future impacts of climate change on health, and the ability of different sectors to adapt to climate change. This assessment has led to the development of national strategies with multisectoral collaboration to respond to the priorities identified.

This seven-country initiative of WHO/Europe and the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) aims to protect health from climate change by addressing adaptation, strengthening health systems and building institutional capacity.

WHO and the Friends of Public Health worked to raise awareness of health matters throughout the Conference, held from 29 November to 10 December 2010. WHO/Europe also promoted the European Regional Framework for Action, which was welcomed at the WHO Fifth Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health in Parma in early 2010.