World Health Organization’s newly appointed special envoy for Climate Change and Health has warned that diseases and pandemics will rise if health systems are not tied to climate change initiatives.
Dr Vanessa Kerry, whose appointment was announced on June 22, 2023, on the sidelines of Summit for a New Global Financial Pact, said the world has moved from the Covid-19 pandemic and is now facing the climate change pandemic.
“Climate change is probably the biggest single threat humanity faces today.”
She noted that outbreaks are becoming more often and more devastating because habitats have changed, while referring to the cholera outbreak in Southern African countries, with Malawi being the worst affected.
“I’m saddened that President [Lazarus] Chakwera of Malawi could not be here in Paris because his country is a great example of a nation that the impacts of climate change have besieged,” she said.
“They have the largest cholera outbreak with tens of thousands of cases and thousands of deaths.”
“The wrong choices of the past must be made right if we face the future with certainty.”
Dr Kerry underscored the importance of planning and acting early as the signs are imminent.
“Climate change is probably the biggest single threat humanity faces today, and it crosses every sector of our lives. It impacts economies, communities, our ability to care for our families, and our ability to live healthy lives,” she said after her appointment was announced.
The chief executive of Seed Global Health said the world needs to wriggle out of the climate pandemic, and the health discussion should be at the center of the climate change discussions.
“Climate change is emerging as the greatest health challenge of the 21st century.”
She said the devastation caused by Covid-19 should be an indicator that leaders need to pull out all the stops to end the problems caused by the climate crisis.
“We are facing a different kind of pandemic. We have just emerged from one recognized as Covid-19, but this is a different one that infiltrates all aspects of our lives,” she said.
Mobilize resources to advance the work of the WHO in the critical areas of climate and health work.
“As we are gathered here in Paris to discuss ways of finding solutions, we need to think of ways to have health-centered responses. When we put health at the center and think about what it means to invest in strong and resilient health systems founded on solid infrastructure, on green systems of energy, then we will be able to respond to anything.
“The wrong choices of the past must be made right if we face the future with certainty and avoid the pitfalls that have gotten us to where we are.
“It requires us to fight another pandemic, that of expedience and wrong choices we have been making for a long time,” she said.
She looks forward to engaging leaders, influencers, and communities to shape the future.
Invest in strong and resilient health systems founded on solid infrastructure.
“I am incredibly excited to partner with the WHO and hopefully leaders and voices and communities impacted to be able to shape a new way for us to move forward,” she said.
“I am honored to announce today the appointment of Dr Vanessa Kerry as the first WHO Special Envoy for Climate Change and Health.
“Dr Kerry will play a pivotal role in amplifying WHO’s climate and health messaging and undertaking high-level advocacy.
“Dr Kerry’s extensive experience and dedication to public health make her an invaluable asset in addressing the health consequences of climate change.
“Climate change is emerging as the greatest health challenge of the 21st century, impacting various aspects of human well-being,” he said.
Teodoros said that Dr Kerry would help amplify WHO’s climate and health advice and guidance globally; engage global and regional organizations and national governments to foster the adoption and adaptation of WHO’s recommendations, and mobilize resources to advance the work of the WHO in the critical areas of climate and health work.
Dr Kerry is a renowned global health expert and medical doctor.
Seed Global Health, the firm she heads has impacted health care in Africa, focusing on maternal and child health, infectious diseases, and non-communicable diseases.
They do this by “investing in Africa’s doctors, nurses, and midwives, building a healthier future for the continent.”