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Story and Perspective

Kudos to Passing the Resolution on Climate Change and Health! Let’s Take Action Now!

By: Crystal Lander, Executive Vice President, Pathfinder

Photo: Pathfinder Bangladesh

At Pathfinder, our delegation to the 77th World Health Assembly was proud to witness the passage of the Resolution on Climate Change and Health. The resolution accurately recognizes climate change as one of the major threats to global health.

Passage of the resolution through consensus demonstrates a clear political commitment by governments and the World Health Organization (WHO) to scale up climate action as a public health priority.

Climate change puts everything Pathfinder strives for at risk—threatening the ability of each person we serve to be healthy, thrive, and live the life we choose.

Just last week, Cyclone Remal tore through coastal areas of Bangladesh, bringing high winds, severe floods, and landslides that damaged 150,000 homes and critical infrastructure including health facilities across 19 districts. Our teams went to work with our government and civil society partners, mobilizing community-led early warning systems ahead of the cyclone and responding to immediate needs following the disaster.

Severe flooding from a cyclone can substantially increase the risk of malaria, cholera outbreaks, and other water-borne diseases. The climate-health connection is evident, yet many health systems remain unprepared to respond.

The Resolution on Climate Change and Health calls for a laser focus on climate-resilient and sustainable health systems. But many countries lack the resources to fully carry forward this call to action.

Passing the WHO’s $6.8 billion fourteenth program of work that includes climate change as a priority is a good step. But, as this article points out, we also need stronger public-private partnerships, improved capacity to measure the impact of climate-health interventions, and prioritization of integrated climate-health programs across official development assistance from global partners. Debt-for-health financing should also be considered.

As governments develop their national climate action plans, climate finance is increasingly mobilized, and the WHO’s program of work is implemented, we call for:

  • Health system assessments and evidence-based, locally led solutions: The climate resilience and preparedness of health systems must be assessed in relation to local climate threats. Locally led, evidence-based solutions can then be developed to support continuous, high-quality, climate-responsive services through environmental pressures and climate disasters.  
  • Community engagement to manage climate change adaptation: Local communities must be involved in climate preparedness planning and climate actions—from early warning systems to dissemination of critical information, and integrated climate, health, and livelihood activities. In many communities, digital applications can quickly connect individuals to social safety nets and resources for climate resilience and education.
  • The leadership and development of women and young people: We must shift power toward women and girls and build the leadership capabilities of young people, enhancing their participation, voice, and agency in climate actions and decision-making and building the next generation of climate leaders and innovators. At the same time, we must ensure women, young people, and other marginalized groups have continued access to reliable healthcare during climate disasters.
  • Include health and gender actions in climate policies: Climate policies must integrate health and gender priorities so that governments prioritize health with climate actions, and account for the needs of women and girls in climate action plans.

The climate crisis is here. Extreme weather events are threatening biodiversity and ecosystems, food security, air and water quality, and driving the spread of infectious diseases at a massive scale. Among women and girls, unintended pregnancies, gender-based violence, early and forced marriage, unsafe births and abortions increase during climate disasters.

As the Resolution on Climate and Health states: We must rapidly scale up climate adaptations, particularly in those countries experiencing the most devastating impacts. And we must do it now.

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