WHO and WMO Strengthen Work on Health, Climate and Environment

WMO and the World Health Organization (WHO) have agreed on a roadmap to strengthen the provision and use of weather, climate, water and environmental information and services in evaluating human health risks and thereby improve health outcomes. The roadmap was developed by a group of experts from the health, weather and climate sectors representing research, operational, and policy interests. They met in Geneva from 21-23 January to advance the joint Framework Agreement on Health, Climate and Environment and to gain a better understanding of health needs, applications and operational mechanisms.

The experts made several recommendations:

  • More integrated and comprehensive risk management and capacity building is needed at national, regional, and global levels
  • The new Research Board needs to consider health research and information needs and to establish coordination/harmonization, or even hybrid mechanisms, with the Services Commission on matters of health
  • Joint advisory and implementation mechanisms are needed to move the workplan forward
  • Coordination and technical support functions for integrated health information science and services need to be strengthened.

A synthesis of the type of scientific cooperation and services that NMHS already provide to the health sector were highlighted at the meeting. Canada, Finland, Germany, Hong Kong (China SAR), India, Peru, United States of America, the United Kingdom and the Regional Climate Centre at the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology demonstrated the broad scope and breadth of expertise in the WMO community for providing operational health services and supporting health research. These include heat health warning systems, cold warning systems, pollen advisories, ultraviolet (UV) index forecasts and services, air quality monitoring and forecasting, harmful algal bloom forecasts, recreational water safety advisories, cholera monitoring and forecasting, seasonal advisories, and a broad range of support for infectious diseases research.

WMO and WHO have long cooperated on climate and health. The two organizations agreed in May 2018 to step up action to tackle environmental health risks that cause an estimated 12.6 million premature deaths every year. Toward this goal, WMO has engaged to meet the global commitment to reduce deaths due to air pollution by two thirds by 2030.

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