The warming climate directly impacts human health in a number of ways pertinent to pandemic threats, including immediate threats to respiratory health from air pollution and increased vulnerability to infectious diseases with epidemic and pandemic potential as a consequence of rising temperatures and changing ecosystems. Recognizing the interconnectedness of human, animal, and environmental health is pivotal in adopting a holistic approach, embracing the concept of One Health.
Climate change is also undermining health infrastructure and supply chains. Slow rise issues, such as warming temperatures, as well as sudden impact events, such as climate-driven storms and natural disasters, challenge the integrity and effectiveness of medical supplies and threaten health systems, disrupting access to essential health care, and amplifying the vulnerability of communities.
A more integrated and systemic approach is needed to address the impacts on people and on health infrastructure and should span more than just the crisis response phase of climate events and pandemic threats.
This paper sets out the main challenges that climate change poses to human health and health infrastructure and calls on leaders to prioritize action in three areas to build and sustain health systems that are both pandemic- and climate-resilient. We call specifically for the establishment of an expert Commission to reach consensus on the most effective interventions and their costs, and priorities for additional investments through global financial institutions.
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