Health organizations spanning every continent issued a call today to end society’s deadly and costly dependence on fossil fuels.
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The Lancet has declared that the changing climate and its impact on health is the most serious health threat of the 21st century. By placing health on the climate change agenda, we, as public health professionals, have the opportunity of focusing the climate challenge on human impacts as compared to the other broader environmental impacts that have dominated the agenda to date. According to the best available science, the impact of climate on the global population is likely to develop to catastrophic proportions over the next 4-5 decades. Addressing risks that our children and their children will face can no longer be left to the politicians or international agencies. If we are to address global population health, it must become the task of health professionals to provide the lead.
In light of the growing global emphasis on management of the rising burden of non-communicable diseases, including asthma, public health professionals in South Africa should undertake action.
From 15 –17 August 2011 an International Student Conference on Climate Change and Indigenous Knowledge Systems will be held in Johannesburg.
At the 5th Conference of African Union Ministers of Health it was highlighted that placing health impacts central in the climate debate is essential.
The health impacts of climate change are well documented. The same is true of the impacts on basic human rights – food, water, shelter, safety, freedom and justice. It is nearly always the most disadvantaged people who are most vulnerable to climate-induced threats. If carbon reduction can be managed in an equitable way across the globe, with fair support for emerging economies, sustainable progress can be made whilst helping poorer countries achieve their Millennium Goals. This article discusses the role of the health sector in carbon reduction and the role of health professionals as advocates for greener healthcare and lifestyles.