WHO/UNFCCC climate and health country profiles provide evidence on the health impacts of climate change to empower governments to take action

World Health Organization

There is increasing evidence of both the direct effects of climate change on health, such as increased exposure to heat stress and extreme weather events, and the indirect effects, for example, changes in the transmission cycles of infectious diseases. The degree of climate change varies geographically, and its impacts on health are strongly influenced by, and interact with, environmental determinants of health (such as availability of water), and social determinants of health (including poverty, access to health-supporting services such as water and sanitation, and coverage of preventive and curative health services). The scale and nature of health vulnerability to climate change therefore differs dramatically between countries, and even within countries.

 

Country-specific evidence

Recognising that countries need information that reflects their unique health risks and opportunities to protect health while mitigating climate change, World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Margaret Chan and UNFCCC Executive Secretary Cristiana Figueres committed to support the development of country-specific evidence on climate change and health. The objective was to empower Ministers and negotiators to advocate and act on behalf of health in the lead-up to the critical COP21 agreement.

The Climate and Health Country Profile project responds to this commitment by bringing together leading experts in the climate and health communities to provide countries with reliable and relevant evidence in six main areas: current and future climate hazards; current and future health impacts due to climate change; current exposures and health risks due to air pollution; opportunities for health co-benefits from climate change mitigation; current levels of emissions; and the current status of national policy response.

Focus on opportunities

The Climate and Health Country Profiles focus not only on the health risks facing countries, but also on the opportunities that can be gained by taking decisive action against climate change. The health and climate projections presented in the profiles highlight the potential benefits to health of both strong global commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and comprehensive national adaptation and mitigation policies, strategies and programmes. As such, the country profiles provide a tool for countries to reflect on the importance of commitments to low-carbon solutions, to evaluate the status of their policies and programmes at a national level and within a broader global context, and to scale up effective climate and health activities.

Beyond COP21

Countries are at different stages of progress in their efforts to protect health from climate change. However, given the current climate concerns for human health, there is still a long way to go in all countries in terms of adaptation and mitigation opportunities and commitments. The Climate and Health Country Profiles therefore aim to establish a set of core indicators that will support countries in tracking their future progress in reducing health vulnerability, strengthening climate resilience of health systems, and gaining health benefits from mitigation policies.

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The Climate and Health Country Profile Project is a joint collaboration of WHO and the UNFCCC, supported and in-part funded by the Wellcome Trust, working together with CDP, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the World Bank, and with contributions by researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), University of East Anglia (UEA), and the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison).

On November 16, 2015 the first set of Climate and Health Country Profiles were released, including Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Colombia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malaysia, Morocco, Nigeria, Oman, Peru, Philippines, Tanzania and Thailand. A Climate and Health Global Overview document was also published to complement the country profiles and to indicate the trends in climate change and health that we can expect to experience, depending on our collective level of ambition and effectiveness. The Climate and Health Country Profiles and the Global Overview can be found at: http://www.who.int/globalchange/resources/countries/en/. For further information please contact Tara Neville, Climate and Health Country Profile Project Manager.

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