The World Health Organization has called the climate crisis the biggest global health threat of the 21st century. The effects of climate change on human health are wide-ranging – from direct impacts of extreme weather such as hurricanes, drought, and heatwaves, to indirect effects like new and reemergent diseases, to third-order effects like mental stress and undernutrition due to crop failure. By 2030, the direct damage costs to health from climate change are estimated to be as high as US$4 billion annually. There is an urgent need for action on climate to protect and sustain human health, including a focus on health systems and health policies.
At the December 2021 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow (COP26), a group of more than 50 countries committed to develop climate-resilient and low-carbon health systems in response to growing evidence of the impact of climate change on people’s health. However, there is not yet a shared understanding of what this commitment means. There is no widely accepted definition of what constitutes a climate-resilient or a low-carbon health system. While national policy-makers recognize the challenge of climate change, they do not always know exactly what to do or how to do it. There is a need to support countries to better understand where to start and what to prioritize to ensure health systems and health policies are mitigating and adapting to the ongoing climate crisis.
In June 2022, the Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research commissioned 6 studies on health policy and systems research for climate change. This project aims to identify what efforts are being taken on national policy-level in responding, and in the mitigation of climate change, to improve resilience of health systems and health policies. This project will synthesize evidence to respond to the climate crisis and move towards climate-resilient, low-carbon and sustainable health systems. Using mixed-method approaches and working closely with national health policy-makers, the results are expected to improve health policy as well as broader resilience.
The objective of this side event is for these countries to share lessons and facilitate learning across different national experiences.