As lockdowns around the world begin to ease, medical professionals are urging political leaders not to forget the lessons learned from the coronavirus, emphasizing that a new trajectory, one that takes account of air pollution and the climate crisis, is needed.
More than 200 organizations representing more than 40 million health workers – making up about half of the global medical workforce – have signed an open letter to the G20 leaders and their chief medical advisers, pointing to the 7 million premature deaths to which air pollution contributes each year around the world.
The letter urges governments to involve medical and scientific communities in designing the stimulus packages now underway, in order to ensure they include considerations of public health and environmental concerns. They say public health systems should be strengthened, and they warn of how environmental degradation could help unleash future diseases.
“We know now more than ever that healthy lives depend on a healthy planet. As we walk on the road to recovery, we need to build a system that will protect us from further damage. We need a healthy and green recovery,” said Miguel Jorge, the president of the World Medical Association.
The signatories also want reforms to fossil fuel subsidies, with public support, shifted towards renewable energy, which they say would make for cleaner air, cut greenhouse gas emissions and help to spur economic growth of nearly $100 trillion in the next three decades. They also stress that a green recovery would eventually yield more jobs and a better return on investment than returning to business as usual.
Among the signatories are the World Medical Association, the International Council of Nurses and Midwives Federation, the Commonwealth Nurses and Midwives Federation, the World Organization of Family Doctors, and the World Federation of Public Health Associations, as well as thousands of individual health professionals.