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Celebrating World Health Day

WHO estimates that more than 13 million deaths around the world each year are due to avoidable environmental causes. This includes the climate crisis which is the single biggest health threat facing humanity

Post by on Thursday, April 7, 2022

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World Health Day is a global health awareness day celebrated every year on 7 April, under the auspices of the World Health Organization, as well as other related organizations. World Health Day is celebrated every year on 7 April to commemorate the anniversary of the founding of the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1948. Each year for this date, a theme is chosen that highlights an area of priority concern for WHO. In the face of the current pandemic, a polluted planet, and an increasing incidence of diseases, The theme for World Health Day 2022 is Our Planet, Our Health. This call from PAHO, the WHO, and partners, presents a unique opportunity for a green and healthy recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, that puts the health of individuals and the planet at the center of actions and fosters a movement to create societies focused on well-being.

In recent decades, enhancements in health services, environmental protection, economic development, and other factors have led to improvements in the health of people across the region of the Americas. Nevertheless, an estimated one million premature deaths per year are attributable to known avoidable environmental risks. Air pollution, contaminated water, inadequate sanitation including solid waste management, risks related to certain hazardous chemicals, and negative impacts of climate change are the most pressing environmental public health threats in the Region. These threats to public Health are compounded by weak governance practices and potential inequities in health as well as by limited leadership, expertise, and resources in the health sector. However, this theme of ‘Our Planet, Our Health’ should be a powerful reminder to us that the Resolution of many of these issues are beyond the exclusive purview of the health sector and, as a consequence, an effective response will demand whole- of- government and whole- of Society approaches.

This World Health Day event will present the Region’s vision together with inspiring stories from countries of the Americas about the actions that they are taking to build a world with clean air, safe water, and sanitation, where healthy food is available to all, cities are livable, economies are climate-resilient and focused on health and well-being. Furthermore, they are contributing to a world where all people, including those living in situations of vulnerability, can live longer, happier and thrive in the face of the current pandemic. In the midst of a pandemic, a polluted planet with increasing diseases like cancer, asthma, heart disease, on World Health Day 2022, WHO will focus global attention on urgent actions needed to keep humans and the planet healthy and foster a movement to create societies focused on well-being.? ?

WHO estimates that more than 13 million deaths around the world each year are due to avoidable environmental causes. This includes the climate crisis which is the single biggest health threat facing humanity. The climate crisis is also a health crisis. Our political, social and commercial decisions are driving the climate and health crisis. Over 90% of people breathe unhealthy air resulting from burning of fossil fuels. A heating world is seeing mosquitoes spread

diseases farther and faster than ever before. Extreme weather events, land degradation and water scarcity are displacing people and affecting their health. Pollution and plastics are found at the bottom of our deepest oceans, the highest mountains, and have made their way into our food chain. Systems that produce highly processed, unhealthy foods and beverages are driving a wave of obesity, increasing cancer and heart disease while generating a third of global greenhouse gas emissions.

While the COVID-19 pandemic showed us the healing power of science, it also highlighted the inequities in our world. The pandemic has revealed weaknesses in all areas of society and underlined the urgency of creating sustainable well-being societies committed to achieving equitable health now and for future generations without breaching ecological limits. The present design of the economy leads to inequitable distribution of income, wealth and power, with too many people still living in poverty and instability. A well-being economy has human well-being, equity and ecological sustainability as its goals. These goals are translated into long-term investments, well-being budgets, social protection and legal and fiscal strategies. Breaking these cycles of destruction for the planet and human health requires legislative action, corporate reforms and individuals to be supported and incentivized to make healthy choices.

What can you do to protect our planet and our health?

 

Governments

·         Prioritize long-term human wellbeing and ecological stability in all decision-making.

·         Prioritize wellbeing in all businesses, organizations, social and ecological goals.

·         Keep fossil fuels in the ground. Stop new fossil fuel exploration and projects and implement policies on clean energy production and use.

·         Stop fossil fuel subsidies. Re-invest fossil fuel subsidies in public health.

·         Tax the polluters. Incentivize carbon reduction.

·         Implement the WHO air quality guidelines.

·         Electrify health care facilities with renewable energies.

·         Reduce air pollution levels to reduce the burden of disease from stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and both chronic and acute respiratory diseases, including asthma.

·         Tax highly processed foods and beverages high in salt, sugars and unhealthy fats.

·         Implement policies to reduce food wastage.

·         Repurpose agriculture subsidies towards sustainable and healthy food production.

·         Build cities with green spaces that promote physical activity and mental health.

·         Take the pledge! Adopt WHO’s green manifesto.

·         Tobacco pollutes the planet and our lungs. Create smoke free cities and tax tobacco.

·         Devise policies on waste and plastic reduction.

·         Integrate mental health and psychosocial support with climate action and policies to better prepare for and respond to the climate crisis.

·         Work together with community leaders that include representatives of refugees and migrants on mitigation and adaptation measures of climate change and support initiatives led by refugee and migrant communities at local level.

Corporations

·         Switch off lights after working hours.

·         Support teleworking when possible.

·         Remove highly processed and packaged foods from the workplace.

·         Reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of your activities.

·         Protect, promote and support breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is healthy and sustainable food for babies.

·         Ensure safe water is accessible for workers.

 

Health workers and health facilities

·         Support efforts to reduce health care waste.

·         Provide sustainably grown local food and ensure healthy food choices by reducing sodas and

·         highly processed and packaged food in health facilities.

·         Decarbonize health facilities.

·         Identify opportunities to save energy.

·         Ensure safe clean water at health facilities.

·         Support purchase of environmentally friendly products that are easily recyclable or reusable.

·         Advocate for health to be at the centre of climate change policies.

 

Mayors promote

·         Promote energy efficient buildings.

·         Engage low-carbon public transport.

·         Build new bike lanes and footpaths.

·         Protect biodiversity and create new parks and gardens.

·         Switch to renewable energy for municipal operations.

·         Ensure low-income households and health care facilities have access to clean, affordable energy.

·         Partner with the local business community to support sustainability.

·         Regulate the marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages in public spaces.

 

 

Individuals

·         Share your story: our planet, our health.

·         Raise your voice and demand climate actions to protect your health.

·         Take action, inspire others.

·         Walk or pedal to work at least one day a week. Choose public transport.

·         Change to a renewable energy provider; don’t heat your rooms over 21.5C; turn off the light whennot in the room.

·         Buy your fresh groceries from local producers and avoid highly processed foods and beverages.

·         Tobacco is a killer and a polluter. Stop consuming tobacco.

·         Buy less plastic; use recyclable grocery bags.

 

(The Author is Nursing Research Scholar. Feedback: bandayaabid@gmail.com)

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