The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UN, 1948) affirms
"the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being - including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services"
Collective international action is required to ensure that dangerous anthropogenic interference with global climate does not worsen the plight of vulnerable populations. Many of the world's poorest countries are currently obliged to divert resources from essential social services to debt repayments. Reducing those international debt repayments is likely to increase health spending in some countries, and initiatives like the IMF/World Bank Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative could be extended (Oxfam, 1998). The adverse public health impacts of climate change are likely to be worsened by Structural Adjustment Policies, which should now be reviewed in the light of FCCC commitments.
The vulnerability of certain groups may be a direct threat to the well-being of more advantaged members of the same population. An example of such a "spillover" effect is the spread of infectious diseases from primary foci in poor populations. What applies within populations may apply also between countries. The vulnerability of poorer countries may jeopardise the security of others, for example, by triggering population movements.
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