Awareness of the multisectoral interactions that influence human health has recently induced many international agencies to address health issues, in addition to the World Health Organization, UNICEF and other UN agencies that have an explicit health mandate. The World Bank has taken a leading role in international health policy through providing loans for health sector reform in developing countries and CEIT (Walt, 1994, 1998; World Bank, 1993). There are also many health and welfare-related NGOs that operate at the international level. Many international agencies play an important role in disaster and humanitarian relief, such as the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the UN High Commission for Refugees, WHO, and international disaster relief agencies. UNESCO supports the education sector in member states and has an important role in supporting climate change mitigation and adaptation.
The specialised agencies of the United Nations are primarily mandated to support government planning and management in Member States, by strengthening sectors such as industry, health and agriculture. These agencies also play an important role in assisting countries to apply internationally-agreed rules and regulations, and quality standards. Accordingly, these agencies consider that technology transfer, as it is broadly defined, should principally serve the needs of Member States regarding selection and implementation of mitigation and adaptive measures for the impacts of global climate change.
A collaborative programme on climate and human health, tentatively defined by WHO, WMO and UNEP, has been approved by the Interagency Committee for the Climate Agenda (IACCA). Execution of this programme is entrusted to WHO as part of its newly defined programme on Sustainable Development and Healthy Environments (SDE). Depending on the availability of resources, it is foreseen that WHO in collaboration with UNEP and WMO will:
- assist capacity building in Member States, in order to promote vulnerability assessment, adaptation strategies, and the adoption of technologies to promote health and reduce GHG emissions;
- exchange and provide information on the health impacts of climate change and variability and of mitigation strategies, as well as effective approaches to adaptation;
- promote research on the above topics.
Nations have both abilities and responsibilities, resources and needs. There will be benefit in sharing and networking, and in working within the framework provided by WHO and other international agencies.
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