WHO, WMO Launch Atlas of Health and Climate

29 October 2012: The World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) launched "The Atlas of Health and Climate" at an Extraordinary Session of the World Meteorological Congress (WMC) in Geneva, Switzerland. The Atlas highlights current and emerging challenges to human health and showcases how climate services can protect human health through prevention, preparedness and risk management.

The Altas is based on the recognition that climate variability and extreme conditions, such as cyclones, droughts and floods, affect human health and can trigger infectious disease epidemics, including diarrhoea, dengue, malaria and meningitis. Graphs, maps and tables illustrate climate change and health linkages, such as how climate and weather variations affect the incidence of infectious diseases. The Atlas stresses that other types of vulnerability influence the relationship between climate and health, including environmental degradation, poverty, and poor sanitation and water infrastructure.

Michel Jarraud, WMO Secretary-General, underlined the importance of stronger cooperation between the meteorological and health communities "to ensure that up-to-date, accurate and relevant information on weather and climate is integrated into public health management at international, national and local levels.” Margaret Chan, Director-General, WHO, said “climate services can have a profound impact on improving…lives, also through better health outcomes.”

The Atlas provides case study examples of how information on climate change and variability can protect human health by predicting the onset, intensity and duration of epidemics. It attributes significant decreases in the death toll from cyclones in Bangladesh to early warning systems and preparedness. The Atlas also shows how health and meteorological services can collaborate to monitor air pollution and health impacts. It notes that shifting to clean household energy sources would save the lives of 680,000 children a year by reducing air pollution and mitigating climate change.

The Atlas includes a preface and three sections on: infections; emergencies; and emerging environmental challenges. The WMC is expected to discuss the structure and implementation of the Global Framework for Climate Services, a UN initiative to strengthen climate service provision to benefit society. Its four priorities are disaster risk reduction (DRR), food security, the health sector and water management. [WHO Press Release] [WMO Press Release] [Publication: The Atlas of Health and Climate] [Global Framework for Climate Services Website]