Intended for healthcare professionals


Health and climate change: a call for action

BMJ 2005; 331 doi: (Published 01 December 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;331:1283
  1. Bettina Menne (, medical officer, Global Change and Health,
  2. Roberto Bertollini, director, Special Programme on Health and Environment
  1. WHO Regional Office for Europe, European Centre for Environment and Health, Via F. Crispi, 00187, Rome, Italy

    The health sector has to become proactive, not reactive

    Climate change—the subject of this week's United Nations summit in Montreal—is already affecting human health in Europe, and countries are not prepared. It is now five years since the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded that there is new and stronger evidence that most of the global warming that has occurred over the past 50 years is attributable to human activities and that climate change could affect human health.1 Even before that, in 1999, ministers of health and environment from the World Health Organization European Region acknowledged that “human-induced changes in the global climate system and in stratospheric ozone pose a range of severe health risks and potentially threaten economic development and social and political stability.”

    Several countries have started the essential action of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. As long as these measures are not altering the ongoing changes in the climate there is a need to understand how people and systems can effectively adapt to new climate patterns and potential threats, and to determine what should be …

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