The World Health Organization (WHO) in conjunction with over 20 leaders from governments and international organizations agreed to a call to action (CTA) to increase the climate resilience and indoor air quality of healthcare facilities through sustainable energy. As part of the call, the group published a Strategic Roadmap to promote healthier populations through clean and sustainable energy, which focuses on six specific areas of development, including the removal of gas stoves and other ‘dirty’ cooking appliances within buildings.
An estimated hundreds of millions of people are served by healthcare facilities lacking electricity, the group states. This limits access to essential, lifesaving medical devices and dramatically hampers the quality, accessibility and reliability of health services delivered.
“It is unacceptable that such a large portion of the population is unable to access adequate health services due to lack of electricity,” said Dr Maria Neira, WHO Director, Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health. “A person’s right to health should not be determined by where they were born, the right to universal healthcare is our global responsibility.”
The areas that the CTA addresses include:
- Considering clean cooking and access to electricity in health-care facilities development priorities essential to protect public health;
- Dramatically increasing public and private investments in electrifying health-care facilities and in clean cooking;
- And developing tailored policy and financing schemes to unlock the potential of clean and sustainable energy solutions.
A Call to Action for the Removal of Fossil Fuels from Healthcare Facilities and Homes
With a specific emphasis placed on introducing healthier cooking implements within healthcare and residential sectors, the CTA echoes a familiar push throughout many governments to eliminate natural gas from buildings entirely, starting with the longstanding gas stove.
According to a press release put out by the WHO, around one third of the global population still relies on polluting fuels to meet their basic daily energy needs for cooking. The resulting household air pollution leads to 3.2 million premature deaths each year from noncommunicable disease and pneumonia.
As a result, households that rely on polluting fuels for cooking risk creating an environment that puts often the most vulnerable communities at great risks. The group also asserts that a lack of access to clean fuels and technologies starts at the home, with women and children being the most disproportionately affected due to their time spent at home in comparison to men.
Given that recent research suggests there are specific pollutants related to gas burning that are irremovable through ventilation, the push for its removal in the interest of climate and human health has only continued to mount over time. By accelerating access to clean cooking, not only will it save millions of lives, but it will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions and therefore protect the planet, the group states.
This comes ahead of the upcoming COP27 conference, the twenty-seventh United Nations Climate Change Conference, which hopes to stand as the turning point in the fight against climate change. Integral to this, the WHO asserts, will be the development of more resilient healthcare systems, and a revolution in home design that will help inure the public against easily preventable health issues.