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WHO urges focus on health in dealing with climate change

Updated

By Philippines News Agency

MARRAKECH, Morocco — The World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday called for giving health a central priority in the Climate Change Conference (COP22), being held in Morocco, and including it in the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

From the left, Hoesung Lee, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Patricia Espinosa, U.N. climate, and Moroccan Foreign Minister and COP22 president Salaheddine Mezouar, attend the opening session of the Climate Conference in Marrakech, Morocco, Monday Nov. 7, 2016. Climate negotiators have started work on implementing the Paris pact on global warming amid uncertainty over how the U.S. election will impact the landmark deal as temperatures and greenhouse gases soar to new heights. Others are unidentified. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy) Manila Bulletin

From the left, Hoesung Lee, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Patricia Espinosa, U.N. climate, and Moroccan Foreign Minister and COP22 president Salaheddine Mezouar, attend the opening session of the Climate Conference in Marrakech, Morocco, Monday Nov. 7, 2016. (AP Photo/Mosa’ab Elshamy) Manila Bulletin

According to a WHO statement, almost one quarter of the global burden of disease and approximately 12.6 million deaths each year are attributable to avoidable environmental risk factors, such as air, water and soil pollution, chemical exposures and ultraviolet radiation.

Global environmental and social changes, including climate change, exacerbate many of these risks, it added.

Despite the growing evidence of the effect of environmental risk factors on health, political action and investments remain largely insufficient: only about 3 percent of health resources are invested in prevention, with approximately 97 percent are spent on treatment, increasing health care costs, it pointed out.

Health gains represent major social and economic benefits of environmental protection, and therefore should be put forward as key motivating forces for public support and political action, it said.

Morocco, the WHO and the United Nations Environment Programme will host later in the day a ministerial meeting on health, environment and climate change.

The meeting will bring together health and environment ministers to promote healthier environments for healthier people.

The participants are expected to identify ways and means for a potential future coalition and adopt a Marrakesh declaration on health, environment and climate change.

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