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Bill Gates affiliated vaccine org GAVI dips into Climate Change: ‘The focus of climate change has shifted from polar bears to people’ – ‘Increasing recognition of the health impacts of climate change’

“In recent years, the focus of climate change has shifted from polar bears to people. There is now increasing recognition of the health impacts of climate change, which have become a specific IPCC focus.

Language has shifted too, with “global warming” being supplanted by “climate change”, recognising the fact that it is not just higher temperatures that are the problem. Factors such as ocean acidification, changes to ocean current dynamics and extreme weather are all having profound impacts – including on human health.

These impacts are highly diverse. Higher temperatures increase the risk of heat stress. But most impacts are more subtle, and result from complex pathways of causation. The changing distribution of insect vectors is altering exposure to infectious disease; drought or flooding is decimating farming productivity, leading to malnutrition; extreme weather causes floods and landslides that, as well as leading directly to deaths, destroy properties, damage health facilities and prevent people accessing health care; hardship, loss of livelihoods and forced migration can have major impacts on mental health.

Much of our work has focused on immunisation. However, in 2023, we invited members of our network to share their experiences of climate change and how it is affecting the health of their local communities. Inputs from more than 1,200 respondents, collated into a TGLF Listening and Learning Report, provided a vivid insight into how communities in the Global South are being affected by climate change, and how these effects are being perceived.

To mark COP28, in December 2023 we organised a follow-up event, inviting past contributors not just to share their local experience of climate change’s impact on health, but also to describe any responses they were making and what they would say to COP28 leaders. Their responses have also been collated into a TGLF Listening and Learning Report.

There is something poignant about these local efforts to hold back the climate change tsunami, in communities that have made essentially no contribution to climate change and are experiencing its most devastating effects.

The responses also reveal important insights into what health workers believe can make a difference. They urge global leaders to reach agreement on greenhouse gas emissions and to accelerate the transition to green energy sources.

A more integrated, systems-wide perspective is needed, recognising the full spectrum of biological, social and behavioural shifts being driven by climate change that are affecting health and well-being.”