Climate Change

Key Facts

  • Climate change affects the fundamental requirements for health – clean air, safe drinking water, sufficient food and secure shelter.
  • The global warming that has occurred since the 1970s caused over 140 000 excess deaths annually by the year 2004.
  • Many of the major killers such as diarrhoeal diseases, malnutrition, malaria and dengue are highly climate-sensitive and are expected to worsen as the climate changes.
  • Areas with weak health infrastructure – mostly in developing countries – will be the least able to cope without assistance to prepare and respond.
  • Reducing emissions of greenhouse gases through better transport, food and energy-use choices can result in improved health.

WPRO response

In 2008, WPRO was the first regional office to take action on climate change. During the 59th Regional Committee Meeting was endorsed the Regional Framework for Action to Protect Human Health from the Effects of Climate Change. The Regional Office urged Member States to take action and committed to provide support this includes:

Providing technical guidance and support to Member States for health vulnerability and adaptation assessment and to collaborate with other relevant organizations and Member States to undertake studies of the health impact of climate change;

  • Strengthening country-level support to build national capacities to develop and implement national strategies and plans on mitigation and adaptation to climate change;
  • Supporting Member States with training programmes on methodologies in the assessment and management of health risks due to climate change;
  • Providing technical guidance on best practices of adaptation and mitigation within the health sector;
  • Collaborating region-wide and with centres on mechanisms to share pertinent information, provide technical expertise for capacity-building and, taking into account global mandates, monitor the implementation of the Regional Framework for Action to Protect Human Health from the Effects of Climate Change in the Asia Pacific Region;
  • Enhancing cooperation with United Nations organizations and programmes, bilateral development assistance agencies, the private sector and development banks to increase the resources to implement the Regional Framework for Action;

In 2016, the regional office hosted the Asia-Pacific Regional Forum on Health and Environment during which ministers and officials from 14 countries signed the Manila Declaration. Signatories pledged to scale up their efforts and recognized the need for collaboration.