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World Health Assembly highlights links between climate change and health

Date:2016-5-9

Only 15 percent of the world's countries have drawn up plans for climate change refer to health, although the most urgent aspects of climate change is its impact on health, a senior UN official warned Tuesday.

Addressing the World Health Assembly, Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, stressed the links between climate change and health, including those related to the spread of vector-borne diseases.

"If the world does not fundamentally change its approach to energy within the next five years, there is a risk that damage to the atmosphere will be irrevocable and continue to impact on health for decades," she noted.

She also stressed the importance of taking action to prevent health problems, noting that the great majority of health interventions currently focus on treatment.

Her address was followed by a technical briefing that underscored the need for multisectoral action in order to achieve the health-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and agreement on a new resolution on meeting those goals.

The resolution highlights the need to strengthen a range of essential public health functions, which will involve investing adequate, sustainable resources in health-system strengthening, enhancing the education, recruitment and retention of health workers, tackling social, environmental and economic determinants of health, and improving the monitoring and analysis of health outcomes.

In September last year the UN General Assembly adopted the SDGs, an ambitious set of 17 goals with 169 targets for achieving a fairer, safer and healthier world by 2030.

The health-related targets include achieving universal health coverage, access to quality essential health-care services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all.

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