COP18: Health Day

Hello great IFMSAians around the world,

Here are few updates all the way from Doha:

Last Monday, we tried to make it a health-oriented day in collaboration with World Health Organization (WHO) through several activities. These include a side event organized by WHO with its official partners IFMSA, Government of Norway, Government of Qatar, UNDP, WMO, UN Women

The side event was about ” Building Sustainable Health Systems: Focus on Climate Resilience“.

This session moderated by Maria Neira, WHO, addressed the relationships between climate and health. Neira emphasized health must be part of the climate agenda, discussing inter alia: climate-sensitive health risks; policies to improve health equity and address climate change; and improved health as a way to strengthen resilience. She highlighted increased donor engagement, technical support, and regional and national initiatives, but stressed these must all be continued.

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Arvinn Eikeland Gadgil, State Secretary for International Development, Norway, highlighted the “Atlas of Health and Climate” jointly published by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and WHO. He identified three challenges: increasing unpredictability requires planning under conditions of uncertainty; combining health into the adaptation agenda requires mainstreaming into policy; and increasing extreme weather events require health ministries to engage in long-term planning for resilience.

Julia Duncan-Cassell, Minister of Gender and Development, Liberia, emphasized how climate change impacts the health of women, young girls and the elderly. She called for further collaboration between the UNFCCC and WHO to raise awareness, support country-level activities, and address climate and health in planning.

Michel Jarraud, Secretary General, WMO, stressed that the partnership between WMO and WHO helps the international community better understand climate-related health challenges, noting the Atlas is designed to demonstrate the benefits of cooperation between health and climate services. He underscored that more can be done through strengthened cooperation, such as through the Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS).

Aaira Kalela, Global Campaign for Climate Action (GCCA) – Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO), emphasized that 70% of the poor in many countries are women, and they should be further involved in planning climate and health policies, particularly agriculture and water. She stressed women are both victims and powerful actors in addressing climate and health.

Iqbal Kabir, Ministry of Health, Bangladesh, highlighted mainstreaming of health and climate into Bangladesh’s planning processes. He said the most vulnerable to climate change are also the poorest, noting the central role of health in poverty alleviation and increasing climate resilience.

Julian Kyomuhangi, Ministry of Health, Uganda, highlighted strong collaboration among different ministries, notably the agricultural, water and health ministries. She urged advocacy and awareness-raising activities to increase resilience through early warnings and risk reduction, and putting health at the heart of climate change.

During discussions, participants considered issues such as: actions by the South African Ministry of Health, which engaged stakeholders including civil society; specific health impacts of climate change in Burkina Faso, as well as policy responses; the “Doha Declaration on Climate, Health and Wellbeing” issued by an alliance of health and medical civil society organizations; and the effectiveness of bottom-up community health initiatives.

At the end of the session, IFMSA had the chance to present the Doha Declaration that was signed by several NGOs that are concerned about Climate change and Health. The announcement was followed by distributing the declaration to all interested participants. Several governments were interested to this declaration, wanted to sign it and include it in their final statement here in COP.

So, health was addressed, advocated and had a strong attention by several countries through the great collaboration of Health NGOs including IFMSA

In the last days of COP, we started to harvest all the hard work that we have been doing by observing the wide attention health got and inclusion of health in several statements and negotiations

Best regards from Qatar,

On behalf of COP18 delegation,

Lujain

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