Health groups call on the leaders of the Western Balkan countries to harmonize national air quality standards with the World Health Organization Global air quality guidelines. Health experts should be actively involved in these decision-making processes to ensure the timely integration of public health measures into environmental policies. Compliance with WHO recommendations brings multiple benefits – reduced incidence of chronic diseases and premature deaths, reduced overall health costs and, most importantly, better health and higher productivity of people.
The phenomenon of climate change, observed for years and constantly intensifying, has had a negative impact on health, significantly deteriorating the quality of life of people in many regions of the world, including Poland. Already now we are dealing with increasingly frequent extreme weather phenomena. Hurricanes, storms and increasingly longer heat waves no longer surprise us. Unfortunately, this is merely the beginning of the negative effects of climate change. Others will come before long.
In the coming years, many other new threats will be observed, such as flooding of ocean islands, desertification of areas exposed to water scarcity or serious loss of biodiversity, which will translate into food security. However, it does not end there.
Climate change leads to a number of negative health effects. The World Health Organization estimates that currently climate change is directly responsible for more than 140,000 deaths per year, particularly in Africa and South-East Asia. By 2030, this number will increase by 250,000 deaths per year due to malaria, heat stress, diarrhea and malnutrition. On a global scale, the direct economic costs of climate change in terms of health deterioration may amount to USD 2–4 billion per year.
According to the Global Risks Report 2018 published by the World Economic Forum, extreme weather phenomena are the greatest threat to world order and stability over the next decade.
HEAl’s office in Poland, together with the Polish Climate Coalition has published a report on ‘The impact of climate change on health in Poland’ – now the Executive Summary is available in English here