1 May 2009
‘Tomorrow will be too late to regain the progress we have lost today’ – Commonwealth Secretary-General
Health ministers from Commonwealth countries will meet in Geneva, Switzerland, on 17 May 2009 to discuss ‘Health and Climate Change’, a theme of special relevance to the Commonwealth’s developing countries and its small island states.
The meeting, which takes place annually on eve of the World Health Assembly, is for Commonwealth health ministers, senior officials and delegates from non-governmental organisations.
For further media enquiries, please contact Victoria Holdsworth, Communications Officer, Commonwealth Secretariat, on firstname.lastname@example.org or +44 (0)7894 593 520.
Developing countries and small island states in the Commonwealth are already experiencing some of the negative impacts of climate change, but lack the capacity to plan and mitigate for its predicted effects on public health. The meeting aims to provide a platform for discussion on the issue and an opportunity for ministers to share experiences and expertise.
According to the United Nations, an estimated 200,000 deaths each year in the world’s low income countries can be linked to the impact of climate change on health, through crop failure and malnutrition, diarrhoeal disease, malaria and flooding.
Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma said: “Climate change could reverse progress made towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals in human development. Tomorrow will be too late to regain the progress we have lost today.”
The meeting’s keynote speaker is Professor Sir Andrew Haines, Director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Sir Andrew is an expert in epidemiology and the study of environmental influences on health, including the potential effects of global environmental change.
Professor Tony McMichael, a world authority on health and climate change, will deliver a paper on ‘Issues for Risk Assessment, Risk Management and Mitigation’. He is professor at the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health at the Australian National University in Canberra.
During the one-day meeting, Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization, will hold a dialogue with ministers.