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World Health Organization appoints 1st ever Special Envoy for Climate Change and Health

Posted: Tuesday, June 27, 2023. 11:12 am CST.

By Zoila Palma Gonzalez: On June 22, 2023, the World Health Organization (WHO) appointed Dr. Vanessa Kerry as the first-ever Director-General Special Envoy for Climate Change and Health.

Dr. Kerry is a renowned global health expert and medical doctor and CEO of Seed Global Health.

Dr. Kerry will play a pivotal role in amplifying WHO’s climate and health messaging and undertake high-level advocacy.

“We are delighted to have Dr Vanessa Kerry join WHO as our Special Envoy for Climate Change and Health. Her extensive experience and dedication to public health make her an invaluable asset in addressing the health consequences of climate change. Together, we will work towards a more sustainable and resilient future for all,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.

WHO notes that climate change is emerging as the greatest health challenge of the 21st century, impacting various aspects of human well-being.

“Extreme weather events, noncommunicable and infectious diseases, as well as health infrastructure and workforce capacity, are all being significantly affected,” WHO stated.

“Dr Kerry will bring her invaluable expertise and leadership in amplifying WHO’s climate and health messaging, disseminating WHO’s crucial messages on the significance of climate change and health, influential figures, and policymakers to ignite a widespread understanding and sense of urgency; undertaking high-level advocacy for global impact; supporting WHO’s work and engaging in the work of global and regional organizations and national governments, in line with WHO’s expert guidance and providing strategic advice to the Director-General and decision-makers, strengthening WHO’s position as a trusted and authoritative source of information and support, aligning with WHO’s own guidance,” WHO added.

“I am honoured to serve as the WHO Director-General Special Envoy for Climate Change and Health. The climate crisis is a health crisis – it poses a fundamental threat to global health, and urgent action is needed to mitigate and adapt against this complex challenge. Climate change is already wreaking havoc across the world – from the cholera outbreak in Malawi to heat-related illness in India – we must invest in strong health systems now which are resilient against these impacts. I will work with WHO and its partners to drive awareness, develop solutions and build consensus for action for a healthier future for everyone on this planet,” Dr. Kerry commented.

WHO says that this appointment is crucial for the intersection of climate change and health and underscores WHO’s commitment to prioritizing climate change and its impact on global health.


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