We need to realize that health is an investment in the future. Countries invest heavily in protecting their people from terrorist attacks, but not against the attack of a virus, which could be far more deadly, and far more damaging economically and socially. A pandemic could bring economies and nations to their knees. Which is why health security cannot be a matter for ministries of health alone.
All the challenges in this list demand a response from more than just the health sector. We face shared threats and we have a shared responsibility to act. With the deadline for the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals quickly approaching, the United Nations General Assembly has underscored that the next 10 years must be the “decade of action“.
This means advocating for national funding to address gaps in health systems and health infrastructure, as well as providing support to the most vulnerable countries. Investing now will save lives – and money – later. The cost of doing nothing is one we cannot afford. Governments, communities, and international agencies must work together to achieve these critical goals. There are no shortcuts to a healthier world. 2030 is fast approaching, and we must hold our leaders accountable for their commitments.
Elevating health in the climate debate
What’s the challenge?
The climate crisis is a health crisis. Air pollution kills an estimated 7 million people every year, while climate change causes more extreme weather events, exacerbates malnutrition and fuels the spread of infectious diseases such as malaria. The same emissions that cause global warming are responsible for more than one-quarter of deaths from heart attack, stroke, lung cancer and chronic respiratory disease. Leaders in both the public and private sectors must work together to clean up our air and mitigate the health impacts of climate change.
What is WHO doing?
In 2019, over 80 cities in more than 50 countries committed to WHO’s air quality guidelines, agreeing to align their air pollution and climate policies. This year, WHO will work towards developing a set of policy options for governments to prevent or reduce the health risks of air pollution.
Author : Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General