Climate change poses a significant threat to human health, directly impacting various health-related factors and presenting numerous challenges to health systems. Changes in weather and climate events, such as heatwaves, storms, floods, and wildfires, can lead to death and illness. Climate change also disrupts food systems, exacerbates diseases, and has an impact on mental health. Vulnerable populations, including women, children, ethnic minorities, poor communities, and those with underlying health conditions, bear the brunt of these health risks.
Furthermore, climate change has adverse effects on the social determinants of health, such as livelihoods, equality, access to healthcare, and social support structures. As a result, it undermines progress in development, global health, and poverty reduction, and exacerbates existing health inequalities within and between populations. The impact on health systems can reduce the capacity to provide universal health coverage (UHC).
Addressing the health burden of climate change requires action to limit temperature rise to 1.5°C. This includes transitioning to clean energy, integrating health into climate change mitigation policies, building climate-resilient and environmentally sustainable health systems, and protecting health from the impacts of climate change. WHO plays a central role in promoting actions that reduce carbon emissions and improve health, building climate-resilient health systems, and raising awareness about the health implications of climate change.
Efforts are also focused on providing evidence and monitoring, capacity building, and supporting countries in achieving their commitments to climate-resilient and low-carbon health systems.
Overall, tackling the health impacts of climate change is critical for protecting the well-being of populations and ensuring the right to health for all.