COP28: Public Health Wales to tackle the effects of climate change

The national public health agency have welcomed the move by the UN climate summit to put a focus on health for the first time.

On Sunday 3rd December 2023 health firmly landed on the climate change agenda. Global leaders gathered in Dubai prepared to discuss key topics including the avenues through which climate affects health, the health benefits of emissions reductions and the best practices for strengthening climate-resilient health systems.

boy in white and blue crew neck shirt with white and blue pacifier

Although this move is pivotal considering there hasn’t been a COP where time has been earmarked to just discuss the health affects that can spawn from the climate crisis, new research from The Lancet has shown it is well overdue.

Their report reaffirms that substantial deaths and injuries due to climate change are already happening around the world. For example, heat-related deaths in people aged over 65 skyrocketed by 85% in 2013-2022 compared to 1991-2000.

In response to health being at the forefront of discussions, Public Health Wales have made it their mission to prioritise tackling the health effects that come from climate change. Throughout 2023 the authority have completed work which has highlighted that some communities in Wales are likely to be more affected by climate change than others, and some are less likely to act. These include lower income households, people living in areas that frequently flood, and people living with disabilities and/or chronic conditions.

Through a network of local champions, Public Health Wales is now working with primary care providers to improve the environmental sustainability of their day-to-day practice. This particular project, which is part of the Greener Primary Care Wales Framework and Award scheme, has seen GO surgeries, community pharmacies, dental and optometry practices change their ways of working to reduce their impact on the planet. Some establishments have installed solar panels on their roofs, reduced plastic waste or changed to LED lighting.

‘We know that working together we can all do something to support a greener future with the health benefits that it can bring,’ Dr Tracey Cooper, CEO of Public Health Wales said. ‘We can and must act now to reduce the impact of a changing climate on our physical and mental health and wellbeing.’

Image: Mladen Borisov

More on this topic:

The quest to establish clean air in care homes

Air pollution causing thousands of deaths in Massachusetts


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