Dominican Republic joins initiative to create climate compatible health systems

The Dominican Republic is among eleven countries in the Americas that have joined a global initiative to develop low-carbon, climate-resilient health systems.

During the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, countries pledged to create national plans to adapt health systems to global warming. Ten countries committed to the second part, i.e., the development of roadmaps that include deadlines for reducing carbon emissions.

Argentina, Bahamas, Belize, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Panama, Peru and the United States, along with 39 other countries from around the world, agreed to participate in the COP26 Health Program, which includes the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO/WHO).

“The future of health must be forged on the basis of resilient health systems in the face of the effects of epidemics, pandemics and other emergencies, but also the consequences of climate change, particularly extreme weather events and the growing burden of disease from various illnesses related to atmospheric pollution and global warming,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO).

The COP26 Health Program is a partnership between the UK government, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Climate Champions, organizations such as Health Care Without Harm and PAHO/WHO.

“Ministries of Health in the Americas have long been talking about the serious impact of climate change on health, especially in communities in vulnerable conditions,” said Dr. Marcos Espinal, Director of PAHO’s Department of Communicable Diseases and Environmental Determinants of Health.

“But this is the first time they have stood up and recognized the important role that health systems play in climate change. It is a step forward for climate change mitigation in our region,” he noted.

The health sector contributes about 5% of the world’s total carbon emissions. The figure takes into account the operation of healthcare facilities, their energy supply and the supply chain, including the pharmaceutical industry.

Dr. Espinal also drew attention to the alignment of the COP26 initiative and PAHO’s recently launched Health, Environment and Climate Change Agenda for the Americas 2021-2030, which focuses on strategies and actions to promote environmentally resilient and sustainable health systems.

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