FG calls for urgent action to safeguard the planet

By Blessing David

Minister of health has lamented that the effect of COVID-19 and the climate change crisis have unsettled the lives of many
individuals across the globe while causing profound disruptions in the global economy, supply
chains and economic growth, with small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and entrepreneurs
hard hit.

Minister of State for health Dr. A Olorunnimbe Mamora expressed his views as a Keynote Speaker, in commemoration of the 72nd World Health Day, 2022, in Abuja with the theme: “Our planet, Our
health”.

While thanking the World Health Organization for creating an awareness where they can re-imagine a world where clean air, water and food are available to all, where economies concentrate on health and well-being, where cities are livable, and people have control over their health and the health of the planet.

He said since 1950, the World Health Organization has selected themes every year to celebrate
World Health Day, which offers a chance for the global health community to focus on pressing
health-related issues that affect member states. After establishing the World Health
Organization, the World Health Day was first observed on July 22, 1949, then later shifted to
April 7 to inspire the involvement of students.

Mamora said the theme emphasizes an area of priority concern for the World Health Organization that looks at the
connection between the health of our planet and the health of every living creature – humans,
plants, and animals, in the concept of “One Health”.

He decried that the current impact of various environmental crises such as climate change, avoidable
pollution, food and waterborne diseases, emerging and reemerging infectious diseases, and
extreme weather events on the planet’s health and every individual is increasingly difficult to
ignore.

He continued that the environmental crisis has led to worsening non-communicable diseases,enhancing an ecosystem where various infectious diseases foster, worsening air quality, food
and water shortages, and deteriorating mental health illness.

According to him, the American Medical Association , “scientific surveys have shown clear
evidence that patients are facing adverse health effects associated with climate change, from heat-related injuries, forest fire ,air pollution, to worsening seasonal allergies as well as storm-related illness and injuries. Hence efforts must be put in place to lessen the harmful impact that
climate change is having on patient health across the globe.

These health impacts from climate change primarily affect the vulnerable and the elderly
populations disproportionately, especially low-income communities, minorities, children, and individuals with existing health conditions.

He explained that according to the World Health Organization,approximately 80 percent of climate change affects many children which also impacts access to healthcare delivery services and disrupts primary health care infrastructure, involving health care utilities, ambulatory care services, and communication systems, which are all critical to
maintaining emergency medical treatment services.

He said one of the accomplishments of the COVID-19 pandemic was the way Nigerians worked together at a rapid pace in reducing the damage caused by the virus just as various health experts and the government under the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 supervised multi-sectoral and intergovernmental efforts to limit the virus’s transmissibility.

He said “our theme for this event , “Our planet, our health”, permit me to quote from the late Nobel Peace laureate Wangari Maathai, an environmentalist, who once said
, “I have come to realize that the physical destruction of the earth extends to humanity,
too. If we live in an environment that’s wounded – where the water is polluted, the air is
filled with soot and fumes, the food is contaminated with heavy metals and plastic
residues, or the soil is practically dust – it hurts us, chipping away at our health and
creating injuries at a physical, psychological, and spiritual level.

Therefore, in degrading
the environment, we degrade ourselves and all humankind.” This is a profound statement
that captures the essence of our gathering here today”.

According to the minister, the event calls for urgent action to safeguard the 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 benefiting from healthy planet and respect for the integrity of living creature.

He said the Federal Ministry of Health will make conscious efforts to reflect on the need for strategic ideas and priorities, which
should be worked on in more detail through prioritizing long term decision-making that stabilizes the welfare and security of Nigerians and their environment, implementing policies that reduce the use of fossil fuels, subsidies, its exploration,shift projects to increase clean energy production ,implementing WHO air quality guidelines as well as shifting the country towards a green economy by 2030.

The health expert said the event will also 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, he added.

He pointed out that 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 to drive the process.

He further assured of the Ministry’s committment to provide a framework for an action plan that can be modified as desirable for local needs with a shift from fragmented approaches to policy and practice geared towards systematic actions that will promote human health as well as health of the planet.

He however expressed confident that the funding and implementing partners will support the targeted goals and objectives to make them achievable through appropriate funding and robust
implementation.

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