WHO and WMO Provide Decision-makers with Key Information on Health and Climate

31 October 2012. Human health is profoundly affected by weather and climate, as well as climate variability. Extreme events such as droughts, floods and cyclones kill tens of thousands of people every year and undermine the physical and psychological health of millions, while long-term climate change not only threatens to exacerbate today’s problems but also undermines tomorrow’s health systems, infrastructure and ecosystem services that are vital for human health. With the aim to provide decision-makers at all levels with relevant and reliable information on the diverse connections between climate and health, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) published an Atlas of Health and Climate

The Atlas has been launched by WHO Director-General and the Secretary-General of WMO at the WMO’s Extraordinary Congress, 29-31 October 2012, Geneva, Switzerland. It is the product of collaboration between the meteorological and public health communities and provides sound scientific information on the connections between weather and climate and major health challenges. These range from diseases of poverty to emergencies arising from extreme weather events and disease outbreaks. They also include environmental degradation, the increasing prevalence of non-communicable diseases and the universal trend of demographic ageing. 

The Atlas is composed of 3 sections:

  • Section 1: Infections (malaria, diarrhoea, meningitis, dengue fever)
  • Section 2: Emergencies (floods and cyclones, drought, airborne dispersion of hazardous materials)
  • Section 3: Emerging Environmental Challenges (heat stress, UV radiation, pollens, air pollution)

The Atlas conveys three key messages. First, climate affects the geographical and temporal distribution of large burdens of disease and poses important threats to health security, on time scales from hours to centuries. Second, the relationship between health and climate is influenced by many other types of vulnerability, including the physiology and behaviour of individuals, the environmental and socio-economic conditions of populations, and the coverage and effectiveness of health programmes. Third, climate information is now being used to protect health through risk reduction, preparedness and response over various spatial and temporal scales and in both affluent and developing countries

To access the publication please visit: http://www.who.int/globalchange/publications/atlas/report/en/index.html