Knowledge for better food systems

WHO sets agenda for climate and health research

A meeting of experts convened by the World Health Organization in Madrid have agreed to a research agenda to develop an evidence-based framework for action on the human health implications of climate change. The plan builds on a comprehensive review of what is already known about health risks from climate change. It was developed by WHO with more than 80 researchers on climate change and health along with representatives of donor and other UN agencies. The research plan identifies five priority research areas; including:
    A meeting of experts convened by the World Health Organization in Madrid have agreed to a research agenda to develop an evidence-based framework for action on the human health implications of climate change. The plan builds on a comprehensive review of what is already known about health risks from climate change. It was developed by WHO with more than 80 researchers on climate change and health along with representatives of donor and other UN agencies. The research plan identifies five priority research areas; including:
    • Interactions with other health determinants and trends. There is an urgent need for a better understanding of how climate change does and will interact with other important health determinants and trends, such as economic development, globalization, urbanization, and inequities both in exposure to health risks and access to care.
    • There is a need for better characterization of the effects of long-term changes such as increasing drought, decline in freshwater resources, and population displacement, ranging from mental health impacts to risks of conflict, with a particular focus on children and other vulnerable groups.
    • Comparing effectiveness of short-term interventions. Different countries have taken a variety of approaches to deal with climate change related health threats such as heatwaves and floods. Comparative outcome assessments can help rank effectiveness of interventions.
    • There is an urgent need for rapid assessment of the health implications of specific climate change prevention (mitigation) and adaptation policies in other sectors, such as the potentially negative effect of promotion of biofuels on food security and malnutrition; and the potentially positive health effects of sustainable energy and transport policies.
    • Strengthening public health systems to address health effects of climate change. Most health systems interventions to deal with climate change build on basic public health competencies. More knowledge is needed to identify the most effective means of implementing integrated preventive public health strategies that reduce not just climate change related threats but all environmental health risks.
     

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