Our health and the health of our planet are inextricably linked. The imperative to focus on creating healthy societies on a healthy planet is crystal clear.
The 2022 World Health Day theme centers on the link between the health of our planet and the health of humans, animals, plants – all living creatures. Rising temperatures, floods and extreme rainfall are impacting the lives of millions of people, creating humanitarian emergencies, depriving people of homes and livelihoods and driving forced migration and displacement. Climate change will have a serious impact on sexual and reproductive health and rights. Heat worsens maternal and neonatal health outcomes, with research suggesting that an increase of one degree Celsius in the week before delivery corresponds with a six percent greater likelihood of stillbirth. When a climate-related disaster strikes, women and girls are also at greater risk of gender-based violence.
At the same time, human-caused health threats like air pollution, ecosystem degradation, and the production and consumption of tobacco are exacerbating damage to our planet. Tens of thousands of tons of extra medical waste from the response to the Covid-19 pandemic have put tremendous strain on health care waste management systems, threatening human and environmental health. Global food security faces the most severe challenges in years. Food loss and waste, pests and diseases, natural disasters, loss of biodiversity and habitat destruction, and conflict – are major impediments to meeting the world population’s ever-growing food needs.
As Georgia strives to address the economic and social crisis brought on by the pandemic, World Health Day serves as a reminder that innovative ideas and new ways of working are needed to ‘build back better’. We need to transform agri-food systems, promote sustainable agriculture, forestry and fishery practices, and make a systemic shift towards green energy and net-zero emissions. We need a world that is cleaner, healthier, and more sustainable.
Humans contribute to environmental degradation through unsustainable behavioural patterns. We must be part of the solution in addressing the single biggest health threat that humanity faces – the climate crisis.
The United Nations reaffirms its strong commitment to assisting Georgia to build a resilient and healthier society. On this World Health Day, we are calling on everyone to reimagine a world where clean air, water and food are available to all, where economies are focused on planetary and human health and well-being, where healthy, people-centred cities, villages and communities create conditions for people to lead better lives.
Let us all protect our health – and our planet. There is no Planet B.