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Physicians seeks greater priority for health at UN climate change talks.

KARACHI, September 04, 2009 (Balochistan Times): Health must be given a much greater priority at Decembers United Nations Framework Convention on climate change, urged the World Medical Association (WMA) in a statement received here on Friday. Following a WMA seminar on climate change in Copenhagen, Denmark, addressed by experts from around the world, WMA leaders urged that health investment should be a specific item on the agenda of the UN conference. They declared that the WMA and national medical associations would work hard in the coming weeks to ensure that health ministers and governments persuade the UN to give health issues greater prominence at the December convention. Dr Edward Hill, Chair of the WMA, warned that the health consequences of climate change may end up being more important than the economic effects. Yet we are concerned that the issue of health, as well as health professionals, will be noticeably absent from the discussions at the UN Convention. This would be a scandal, he said. Dr Hill said that at its annual General Assembly in New Delhi, India, the WMA would adopt a new Declaration for action to prevent, adapt and mitigate the health consequences of climate change. It would then present the Declaration to the UN Convention, he said mentioning that the Declaration would set out a series of actions, including calling for a halt to the privatisation of water. The WMA Chair said all physicians would be strongly suggested to carry out patient environmental impact assessments, evaluating their patients for risk from environment and global climate change. The WMA wants to ensure that governments incorporate national medical associations and physicians into country and community emergency planning and that physicians prepare their offices, clinics, hospitals, and other health care settings for the infrastructure disruptions that accompany major emergencies, he said. The doctor cum activist said that WMA shall be asking representatives at WMA Assembly to consider how physicians and their medical associations can best prepare themselves and their communities for the consequences of climate change, by looking at the patterns of disease attributed to climate change and describing the impact of climate change on communities and households. We will also consider how we can best draw the attention of governments and the public to the dire consequences of climate change, he said. Countries, he said will need strong health systems, including public health, to combat climate change and effective surveillance and alert systems to monitor events. According to him it was vital that the voice of the medical profession is heard when world leaders meet in December so that plans are put in place to protect our patients and vulnerable populations.

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Publication:Balochistan Times (Baluchistan Province, Pakistan)
Date:Sep 4, 2009
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