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Over 200 medical journals call on WHO to declare immediate emergency: ‘We’ve got to act with thought … but also with haste’

“They are interlinked.”

"They are interlinked."

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Thanks to modern technologies, from airplanes to social media, humans seem to be more interconnected than ever. While that has sparked positive developments, it has also brought new challenges.

According to CBC News’ Lauren Pelley, more than 200 medical journals recently asked the World Health Organization to declare a global health emergency either at or before the next World Health Assembly in May 2024.

What’s happening?

The medical journals petitioned the WHO with their request in an editorial published on Oct. 25 via peer-reviewed medical journal The BMJ, saying the combination of biodiversity loss and changing global temperatures is creating a crisis, per CBC News.

“An emergency declaration helps us realize that we’ve got to act with thought — but also with haste,” said Dr. Gaurab Basu, the director of education and policy at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment.

Kamran Abbasi, the editor-in-chief of the British Medical Journal and the lead author of the editorial, added that “it makes no sense … to consider the health and nature crises in separate silos.”

Why is this important? 

Our planet’s future is being written by our choices today. 

As the editorial cited, the rise of global temperatures due to human activities is just one possible contributing factor to the “disruption of social and economic systems.”

Millions of people have already been displaced by extreme weather events linked to the overheating of our planet, including at home in the United States and abroad. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), approximately 1.2 billion people may need to leave their homes by 2050.

Meanwhile, an increase in waterborne diseases has been driven by pollution — which is also affecting the amount of quality food our oceans can provide, per The BMJ.

“The climate crisis and loss of biodiversity both damage human health, and they are interlinked,” Abbasi told CBC

What’s being done about this crisis?

WHO seems to be on board with taking widescale action, which Basu told CBC could help galvanize efforts from more scientists, governments, and policymakers worldwide. 

The recognition of the crisis from multiple entities already bodes well.

Dr. Maria Neira, the director of the organization’s Department of Environment, Climate Change, and Health, also highlighted how the WHO was actively involved in the formulation of the UN Climate Conference’s Day of Health, with Dec. 3 being the first-ever day focusing on the relationship between climate and health. 

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