By Clive Mutunga, Karen Hardee, and Kathleen Mogelgaard
* Despite the recognition that health and climate change are intimately tied, insufficient cooperation exists between the global health and global climate change communities.
* To help bridge this gap, WHO has made significant efforts to involve itself in the planning and negotiation tied to this month's climate change meetings in Copenhagen.
* However, if health is truly to be given its due in the international arena, it's necessary for health professionals to be represented within climate change bodies (e.g., the UNFCCC) and national negotiating teams.
According to World Health Organization (WHO) estimates, climate change may already be causing more than 150,000 deaths per year, a number that is expected to grow in the future. The most recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) cites overwhelming evidence that human actions are contributing to climate change, with a wide range of implications for human health. Some of the impacts are direct, including mortality and morbidity resulting from more intense weather events, heat waves, and floods. Potentially larger impacts, though, may arise indirectly from mechanisms such as climate's effects on agricultural production and water resources--linked to major killers such as malnutrition and diarrhea--and common vector-borne diseases that are highly sensitive to changing temperatures and precipitation. Furthermore, the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) estimates that climate adaptation costs for the health sector will be in the range of $4 billion to $12 billion per year by 2030.
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[ Source: Solutions for Copenhagen ]