Air pollution is a global issue and is now a leading cause of death. Each year about 3.7 million people die from ambient (outdoor) air pollution and 4.3 million die from household, taken together this is about one in every eight deaths. In some regions, air pollution is ranked as the leading risk factor for mortality.
Dr. Margret Chan, General Director of WHO, stated at the event that "more needs to be done, and that health ministers must step up their efforts." Climate change threatens the foundations of human health —changing infectious disease patterns, and impacting access to fresh water, food and nutrition security. The Norwegian Health Minister stated that “We are facing long term health impacts of climate change. Directly through changing weather patterns and extreme weather events such as storms and floods with the health risk of injuries to people. Indirectly through changes in water, air and food quality and in the planet’s life supporting systems.
The good news is that health systems can be made more resilient to climate change. And sustainable urban transport, housing, and energy strategies can dramatically lower the trajectory of future climate change — whilst immediately reducing deaths from health-harmful air pollution and improving food security.
Mr. Høie also said that the fight against climate change and air pollution is a priority for Norway. The government will contribute to global efforts on reducing air pollution particularly in developing countries. 20 million USD has already been contributed to this work for the past three years. “(…) we want to see more attention given to the issues internationally. Our aim is that concrete action will help to save lives and contribute to limit global climate change.”
The high-level panelist included intervensions by Marison Touraine, Minister for Social Affairs and Health from France and Mr. Bent Høie, Minister of Health and Care Services from Norway. An overview from Professor Kirk Smith, who is the coordinating lead author for health, intergovernmental panel on climate change and a presentation by Dr. Mariyam Shakeela, Minister of Health an Gender from Maldives. The event was moderated by Dr. Maria Neira, Director of Public Health, Environment and Social Determinants of Health, WHO.