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Climate change poses health risks. World Health Organization statistics note that air pollution accounts for seven million deaths annually, while vector-borne diseases like malaria are spreading due to rising temperatures and other shifting weather patterns. This affects vulnerable populations.
These concerns were addressed at the UN General Assembly by Dr Sultan Al Jaber, COP28 President-designate, who pledged health to be the core of climate discussions in the upcoming conference.
“The connection between health and climate change is evident, yet it has not been a specific focus of the COP process – until now. This must change,” said Al Jaber. “Our goal is to build resilient, equitable health systems capable of withstanding the impact of climate change.”
To further combat the effect of climate change on health, COP28 will host its Health Day on December 3, addressing the fragility of public health systems across the globe and highlighting the urgent need for transformative changes in adapting said systems to respond to climate change.
“We are determined to reverse these trends by bringing the world together around an inclusive action agenda centered around a just transition, fairer climate finance, and improved lives and livelihoods,” said Al Jaber.
He also called for increased concessional funds towards the global south to lessen risks and attract private investment. Rebalancing finance is also on the agenda, with Al Jaber stressing that governments should double finance by 2025 and revitalize the Green Climate Fund.
Al Jaber shed light on initiatives the UAE has launched to join the fight. Through the Reaching Last Mile campaign, $455 million has been dedicated to improving global health outcomes.