NEW DELHI: With climate change emerging as the single biggest threat facing humanity, the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Wednesday called for prioritising equitable health and accelerating steps to protect ecological systems and health to build well-being societies.
“Climate change is putting the health, well-being, and sustainable development of billions of people across the region and the world at risk. It imperils decades of progress in reducing disease-related morbidity and mortality. We must act now to keep humans and our planet healthy,” said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia Region.
While nearly 13 million lives are lost every year due to avoidable environmental causes, climate change is expected to cause an additional 250,000 deaths annually between 2030 and 2050. The WHO urged governments and people to take measures to protect ‘our planet, our health,’ which also is the theme of this year’s World Health Day.
The South-East Asia Region is home to more than 2 billion people, which is highly vulnerable to climate change as it has the highest estimated number of deaths due to climate change. Intense rainfall, frequent floods, forest fires and droughts triggered by climate change are already impacting health and livelihood and causing huge sufferings, mental health issues, deaths and displacement both in this region and globally.
Over 90 per cent of people globally breathe polluted air resulting in seven million deaths every year, including 2.4 million deaths in the region, the WHO said, adding the Covid pandemic has further exposed the inequitable and unsustainable nature of existing political, social, and commercial decisions.