Health Professionals Meet to Further Climate Change and Health Agenda

A significant assembly of health leaders, professionals, and their respective associations, institutions, and schools took place in Geneva on June 10 to deliberate on the contributions of the health sector to the climate change and health agenda. The hybrid-format meeting brought together over 150 participants, sparking insightful discussions from all corners of the health community.

Aligning Capabilities with Competencies

“To strengthen national capacity for public health and climate action, we must ensure alignment and synergies between the capability of institutions and the competencies of individuals. This is at the heart of delivering on the essential public health functions,” emphasized Jim Campbell, Director of the WHO Health Workforce Department. His statement underscored the need for a coordinated approach to enhance both institutional capabilities and individual competencies in addressing climate-related health challenges.

Programs and Partnerships in Focus

Senior officials from various influential organizations, including the World Health Professions Alliance, World Federation of Public Health Associations, Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health, and the United Kingdom Faculty of Public Health, presented their ongoing work on climate and health. The interactive session aimed to identify partnerships, opportunities, and actions to accelerate the World Health Organization’s (WHO) efforts on climate change and health systems over the next three years.

Building Capacity for Advocacy and Action

Participants at the meeting highlighted the critical need for capacity building to advocate effectively for climate action within their communities. They stressed the importance of accelerating progress toward resilient, low-carbon health systems tailored to their specific contexts. The recognition of health professionals as key leaders and influencers in the fight against climate change was a recurring theme.

Health Professionals: Frontline Advocates

“Health professionals are on the frontline of the climate crisis,” stated Dr. Maria Neira, Director of the WHO Department of Environment, Climate Change, and Health. “In our fight for survival during this crisis, health professionals are our most trusted advocates for serious climate action.” Dr. Neira’s remarks highlighted the vital role of health professionals as trusted voices in advocating for meaningful climate action.

Path Forward: Continued Engagement and Consultation

The meeting concluded with discussions on upcoming opportunities for consultations and engagement with various constituencies. These efforts aim to support the implementation of the World Health Assembly resolution on climate change and health. This meeting marks the first in a series of consultations focused on integrating climate change and health strategies within the health profession.

Looking Ahead

As the climate crisis continues to escalate, the health sector’s proactive engagement and leadership in climate action are more crucial than ever. The Geneva meeting set a precedent for future discussions, emphasizing the need for ongoing collaboration and concerted efforts to address the intertwined challenges of climate change and public health.

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