HomeNewsEnvironment & ClimateWHO-UNICEF addresses children's health influenced by climatic changes

WHO-UNICEF addresses children’s health influenced by climatic changes


New York, 18 March 2024 (TDI): It is estimated that more than 25 pc of the disease burden in children under the age of 5 has to do with poor environmental conditions.

Because of this, there is an urgent need to recognize how the influence of chemicals and environmental degradation on children’s health can be alleviated.

With these factors brought into consideration, the World Health Organization and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), have initiated a free online course to shed light on children’s environmental health.

These developments have taken place because there is an urgent need for healthcare providers to secure children’s health despite the challenges of environmental pollution and climate change.

Climate Change endangers Children Health

At a time when pollution and climate change are rapidly endangering children’s health, development and their future, the course launched by WHO and UNICEF, incentivizes to provide healthcare individuals with sufficient knowledge and resources all the while lowering the risks of climate change and pollution generously.

According to Dr Maria Neira, Director at the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health, “Over a quarter of all disease burden among children under 5 years of age are attributed to adverse environmental conditions.”

She further goes onto report that, it is of utmost importance to accentuate the environmental health of children to make sure that their health is safeguarded for generations to come.

In addition to this, George Laryea-Adjei, Director Program Group at UNICEF reports that, “Lead poisoning is a devastating example: it can lower IQ and increase violent behavior. Health workers are on the front lines, safeguarding children from these types of risks.”

Being exposed to lead can lead to a plethora of negative health impacts. These include lifelong neurological influence in children and cardiovascular diseases in adults. A recent UNICEF/Pure Earth Joint report, maintains that 1 in three children have blood lead levels, surpassing the WHO reference value of 5 mcg/dL.

Multiple climate hazards such as extreme heat, are linked with the risks of forming complications that may lead to disadvantageous maternal and perinatal results. This could also include, numerous causes of maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality, such as, preterm birth, low birth weight and stillbirth.

Moreover, heatwave has been considered to be a threat to the health of children. Cecilia Sorensen, Director of the Global Consortium on Climate and Health Education at Columbia University, sheds light on how children are “uniquely at risk from extreme heat.”

At a current rate, 559 children are exposed to high heatwave frequency. This number is expected to go up by 2050. It is, therefore, important to understand how intense heat can impact infants, young children and pregnant women.

Also Read: What You Can Do to Protect Children from Environmental Risks

Strategies to protect Children’s Health

The course launched by WHO and UNICEF, provides a detailed consideration of children’s environmental health. This strategy encapsulates key topics of global concern such as air pollution, climate change, e-waste, lead, pesticide and other hazards that impact the welfare of children.

The course also sheds light on a concerning need within the health sector. This is where a lot of providers have limited expertise to recognize, assess and manage environment related diseases in children.

Through the approach of tailored training materials and resources, healthcare professional would be equipped to reflect on the challenges in their local contexts more effectively.

Also Read: WHO Pandemic Accord: Negotiating Future Beyond COVID-19

Moreover, there are methods to safeguard individuals who are susceptible to heat by using the “B.E.A.T the heat” framework. This translates to, “Be aware of heat stress, Easily identify the symptoms, Act immediately to protect, and Take to a health facility.”

Furthermore, climate response policies should emphasize the health of women, children and newborns. These policies need to reflect and address on climate risks to health, including incorporating policies to lower carbon emission and safeguard health.

Countries should also solidify existing monitoring framework and agree on indicators and follow health outcomes. This would enhance the quality of services provided and assist in targeting resources to populations and areas in dire need.

The WHO and UNICEF partnership, highlights a common commitment to advance children’s health and well being throughout the world. It also makes sure that healthcare professionals have the required tools and knowledge to shield the most unguarded members of the society.

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