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Building Climate-Resilient Eye Care: A Landmark Resolution at the World Health Assembly

Published: 10.06.2024
Mitasha Yu Co-chair of IAPB Climate Action Work Group

Exciting developments are unfolding in the realm of climate change and eye health. At the recently concluded 77th World Health Assembly, a landmark resolution on climate change and health was unanimously adopted by all 194 World Health Organization (WHO) Member States, with 37 countries co-sponsoring the resolution.

This resolution marks a significant step forward in recognizing the profound threat that climate change poses to global public health, including its impacts on eye care. Key points of the resolution include:

  • Health Protection Policies: The resolution urges member states to develop and implement policies and plans to promote health protection from climate change and environmental determinants of health.
    • For eye care, this means integrating eye health considerations into broader health and environmental policies.
  • Strengthening Health Systems: It calls for strengthening health systems’ capacity to protect against climate change impacts. This includes building climate-resilient infrastructure, early warning systems, and emergency preparedness.
    • For eye care, this translates to ensuring that eye care facilities can withstand extreme weather events and that they are equipped to handle climate-related eye health issues.
  • International Cooperation and Financing: The resolution emphasizes the need for increased international cooperation, financing, and support for developing countries to build climate-resilient health systems.
    • This is crucial for eye care services, particularly in regions where healthcare infrastructure is already under strain.
  • WHO Guidance and Technical Support: It requests the WHO to provide guidance and technical support to member states on assessing and addressing the health risks of climate change. This includes promoting the development of affordable technologies and services for climate change adaptation and mitigation.
    • For the eye health sector, this could mean new tools and resources to help eye care professionals manage the impacts of climate change on eye health.
  • Multisectoral Collaboration: The resolution highlights the importance of multisectoral collaboration, including with relevant UN agencies, to address the health impacts of climate change and promote sustainable development.
    • For eye care, this collaboration can help integrate eye health into broader health and environmental initiatives, ensuring a holistic approach to public health.

This resolution presents an opportunity to seize the momentum and redouble our commitment to mitigating and adapting eye care to the climate crisis. The IAPB Climate Action Work Group (CAWG) is actively working towards these efforts, and we ask the sector to join us in our mission. By taking these steps together, we can ensure robust and effective eye care services even in the face of climate change. Let’s seize this moment to build a healthier, more resilient future for all!