On this World Health Day (April 7, 2022), WHO is issuing an urgent call for accelerated action by leaders and all people to preserve and protect health and mitigate the climate crisis as part of an “Our planet, our health” campaign marking the organization’s founding day, which falls at a time of heightened conflict and fragility.
In issuing its call-to-action, WHO notes that 99% of people breathe unhealthy air mainly resulting from burning of fossil fuels. A heating world is seeing mosquitos spread diseases further and faster than ever before. Extreme weather events, biodiversity loss, land degradation and water scarcity are displacing people and affecting their health. Pollution and plastics are found at the bottom of our deepest oceans, the highest mountains, and have made their way into our food chain and blood stream. Systems that produce highly processed, unhealthy foods and beverages are driving a wave of obesity, increasing cancer and heart disease while generating up to one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions. This health and social crisis is compromising people’s ability to take control over their health and lives.
“The climate crisis is a health crisis: the same unsustainable choices that are killing our planet are killing people,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “We need transformative solutions to wean the world off its addiction to fossil fuels, to reimagine economies and societies focused on well-being, and to safeguard the health of the planet on which human health depends.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the fault lines of inequity across the world, underlining the urgency for creating sustainable, well-being societies which do not breach ecological limits and which ensure that all people have access to life-saving and life-enhancing tools, systems, policies and environments.
WHO’s Manifesto to ensure a healthy and green recovery from COVID-19 prescribes protecting and preserving nature as the source of human health; investing in essential services from water and sanitation to clean energy in healthcare facilities; ensuring a quick and healthy energy transition; promoting healthy and sustainable food systems; building healthy and livable cities; and stopping the use of taxpayers’ money to fund pollution.
The Geneva Charter for well-being highlights what global commitments are needed to achieve equitable health and social outcomes now and for future generations, without destroying the health of our planet.
Through its World Health Day campaign, WHO is calling on governments, organizations, corporations, and citizens to share actions they are taking to protect the planet and human health.