World Health Day

World Health Day: F.G to set up Committee to protect human health, combat climate crisis

In response to the World Health Organisation, WHO’s, call for accelerated action to protect human health and combat the climate crisis, the Federal Government of Nigeria has pledged to institute a body comprising of experts, policy makers, stakeholders and development partners.

Speaking at a media briefing organized by the Federal Ministry of Health and the WHO, in commemoration of the 2022 World Health Day, Minister of State for Health, Senator Olorunimbe Mamora said the body will constitute a committee to discuss on the central scientific issues to improving and benefitting from a healthy planet and respect for the integrity of the living creature.

While observing the Ministry of Health alone cannot achieve the goal of a protecting human health and combatting climate crisis, Senator Mamora explained that the Committee when formed, will reflect on need for strategic ideas and priorities which will among other objectives shift Nigeria towards a green economy by the year 2030.

“On this occasion of the 72nd World Health Day, the theme “Our Planet, Our Health” emphasizes an area of priority concern for the World Health Organisation that looks at the connection between the health of every living creature – humans, plants, and animals in the concept of ‘One Health’.

“This call for urgent action to safeguard our planet and our health in line with the World Health Day theme, the government will bring together experts, policymakers, stakeholders, and development partners to set up a committee to discuss on the central scientific issues to improving and benefitting from healthy planet and respect for the integrity of living creature.

“The Federal Ministry of Health will reflect on the need for strategic ideas and priorities, which should be worked on in more detail through the following: (a) Prioritizing long term decision-making that stabilizes the welfare and security of Nigerians and their environment; (b) Prioritizing efforts that will keep the private sector and the welfare and security of Nigerians and their environment; (c) Implementing policies that reduce the use of fossil fuels, fossil fuels subsidies, its exploration and shift projects to increase clean energy production and use; (d) Increasing fossil fuels related tax as an incentive for carbon reduction; (e) Implementing the WHO air quality guidelines; (f) Shifting the country towards a green economy by 2030.

“These would serve as the basis for a framework for an Action Plan towards reducing human and planetary health threats. Such an economy in Nigeria will improve the lives of many Nigerians and their environment while reducing exposure to environmental risks for future generations.

“The Federal Ministry of Health alone cannot achieve this, it needs various multidisciplinary and multisectoral actions and initiatives that are required at the national, regional, local and individual levels.”

In a remark, Deputy Country Representative, WHO, Dr. Alexander Chimbaru described the theme for this year’s commemoration “Our Planet; Our Health”, which also is the day the WHO was founded in 1948, as a reminder of the inseparable link between earth’s planet and human health.

Dr. Chimbaru explained that climate change is directly impacting air and water quality; and also resulting in rising burden of heart and lung disease; stroke and cancer in Africa.

“World Health Day has been observed annually on 7 April, since 1950 to commemorate the anniversary of the founding of the World Health Organisation (WHO) two years previously. This year’s theme, Our Planet, Our Health, serves as a timely reminder of the inextricable link between the planet and our health, as the burden of non-communicable and infectious diseases alongside growing incidence of climate-related challenges.

“Climate change is manifesting in increasing temperatures, rising sea levels, changing rainfall patterns, and more frequent severe extreme weather conditions. WHO estimates that more than 13 million annual deaths globally are due to avoidable environmental causes, including the climate crisis.

“With direct consequences for the key determinants for health, climate change is negatively impacting air and water quality, food security, and human habitat and shelter. The knock-on effect for the burden of heart and lung disease, stroke and cancer, among others, is evident from statistics that point to NCDs representing a growing proportion of Africa’s disease burden.”

He noted that in the past 20 years, disease outbreaks have been climate-related, whether they were vector or water-borne, transmitted from animals to humans, or the result of natural disasters.

“However, one in every three Africans faces water scarcity, while about 400 million people in sub-Saharan Africa alone lack basic access to drinking water. About 45% of all child deaths are also associated with malnutrition, which is known to be linked to diarrhoea.

Meanwhile, the WHO has in a statement noted that 99 percent of people breathe unhealthy air resulting from burning of fossil fuels.

In commemoration of the 2022 World Health Day, the Federal Ministry of Health, WHO, UNICEF, and other partners embarked on a road show from the Unity Fountain to the headquarters of the Federal Ministry of Health.

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