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WHO Targets Health And Peace As Global Conflict Escalates

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has launched a new initiative meant to foster dialogue around health and peace in the face of conflict, climate crisis and COVID-19.

Addressing stakeholders at the commemorations of the World Health Day recently, WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the new initiative is meant to foster dialogue around health and peace.

“Recognizing that peace is foundational to all our work on health, development and tackling the challenges of conflict, the climate crisis and COVID-19, I am today announcing a new ‘Peace for Health and Health for Peace’ global initiative. It aims first and foremost to foster new dialogue around health and peace,” he said.

Dr Tedros highlighted that Ukraine is not the only emergency the world is currently facing right now as most parts of the globe are in need of responses too.

“In Afghanistan, people are selling even their kidneys and children to survive. In Tigray, one of the longest and worst blockades in history has largely shut off deliveries of food, fuel and medicines and the region is facing a humanitarian calamity, which includes mass starvation.

“A worsening climate crisis is leading to countries getting hit by multiple climatic catastrophes simultaneously. In the same week last month, Australia’s coral reefs bleached as other parts of the country dealt with ‘cataclysmic floods’. And the pandemic persists with record cases and deaths being recorded in some Asian countries and intense transmission of Omicron (variant BA.1 followed by BA.2) around the world continuing to put substantial pressure on health systems,” he added.

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Dr Tedros said that rising conflict, worsening climate situation and prolonged pandemic collectively have led to the Doomsday Clock to become stuck at 100 seconds to midnight, which remains the closest the world has ever been to a civilization-ending apocalypse since its creation in 1947.

“It’s easy to feel despair but there are things we can do at the micro and macro levels to make a difference.The vast majority of the world wants to live in a world free of war, where they and their families can access good work, put food on the table and have access to essential health services and quality schooling.

“Peace underpins all that is good in our societies. We need peace for health and likewise health for peace. For health workers, WHO staff and for our humanitarian partners on the ground, war makes everything exponentially harder and sometimes even impossible.

“I will be asking other UN agencies, civil society, sport organizations, academia and business, to get behind this initiative, which I ultimately envisage will be part of an overall peace building,” he said.

While war currently dominates the attention of decision makers and the media, the pandemic is by no means over.

Similarly the climate crisis probably remains the largest and most complex existential challenge of our time that needs unparalleled action. A heating world in general is bad for health, with seven million people dying every year just in connection with air pollution.

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This week, WHO released an updated air pollution guidance, which highlights that more than 110 countries are now monitoring the air their citizens’ breath.

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