WHO, WMO launch Atlas of Health, Climate

Geneva, Switzerland (PANA) - The the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) Monday jointly launched the Atlas of Health and Climate that gives practical examples of how the use of weather and climate information can protect public health.

The Atlas was launched in Geneva, Switzerland, with the realisation that as the world’s climate continues to change, hazards to human health are increasing. It illustrates some of the most pressing current and emerging challenges.

Droughts, floods and cyclones affect the health of millions of people each year. Climate variability and extreme conditions such as floods can also trigger epidemics of diseases such as diarrhoea, malaria, dengue and meningitis, which cause death and suffering for many millions more.

“Prevention and preparedness are the heart of public health. Risk management is our daily bread and butter. Information on climate variability and climate change is a powerful scientific tool that assists us in these tasks,” Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of WHO, said at the launch.

“Climate has a profound impact on the lives, and survival, of people. Climate services can have a profound impact on improving these lives, also through better health outcomes,” Dr. Chan said.

Prior to the launch, climate services have been an under-utilised resource for public health.

“Stronger cooperation between the meteorological and health communities is essential to ensure that up-to-date, accurate and relevant information on weather and climate is integrated into public health management at international, national and local levels,'' said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud. ''This Atlas is an innovative and practical example of how we can work together to serve society.”

A WHO statement said numerous maps, tables and graphs assembled in the Atlas make the links between health and climate more explicit:

In some locations the incidence of infectious diseases such as malaria, dengue, meningitis and cholera can vary by factors of more than 100 between seasons, and significantly between years, depending on weather and climate conditions.

Stronger climate services in endemic countries can help predict the onset, intensity and duration of epidemics.

The Atlas is being released at an Extraordinary Session of the World Meteorological Congress, being held in Geneva, Switzerland, 29-31 October. to discuss the structure and implementation of the draft Global Framework for Climate Services.  

The framework is a United Nations-wide initiative spearheaded by WMO to strengthen the provision of climate services to the benefit of society, especially the most vulnerable. The health sector is one of the top four priorities, alongside food security, water management and disaster risk reduction.
-0- PANA SEG 29Oct2012

29 october 2012 13:26:18

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