The lack of proper representation at the global climate change conversation has motivated Nurses Across the Borders (NABs) to demand the inclusion of healthcare services into the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) organs.
For this request to be approved NABs will need to work with sister bodies, therefore the group is calling on organisations that are promoting healthcare delivery and environmental safeguard to come as one and form a united front to ask for this right.
With natural systems being degraded to an extent unprecedented in human history, there is no doubt that human health and that of the planet are in peril. The two are inextricably connected, and civilisations, flourishing natural systems, as well as the wise stewardship of natural resources, are all dependent on how well individual and ecological health issues are managed.
Despite this indisputable revelation, the sad truth, however, is that the health community has not been given its required status at the international climate dialogue.
This fact was reflected at the 15th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP15) to the UNFCCC conference held in Copenhagen, Denmark, where health was only mentioned in a single sentence throughout the entire UNFCCC policy documents.
“This led to the coming together of about 27 members of the health community to form what was then called the Friends of Health,” says Peters Omoragbon, executive president of Nurses Across the Borders.
The president, who made this statement while addressing members of the steering committee via a Zoom chat, added that one of the best ways to measure the success of any ecological initiative is in assessing its impact on human and environmental health.
Sadly, however, Omoragbon lamented that the UNFCCC and many government agencies are ignoring this essential component of the climate discussion.
To break this jinx, the NABs during COP16 in Mexico collaborated with Seatrust Institute and the World Health Organisation (WHO) to kick-start a process to champion the inclusion of healthcare services as a major part of the universal climate talk beyond its present assumption of viewing it as a mere environmental issue.
This alliance, no doubt, can be described as one of the finest decisions taken by this body since awareness around this issue is beginning to sink into the consciousness of many stakeholders. However, the reality remains that there is still much work to be done in bringing actors together to push for this inclusion.
In line with the requirements from the UNFCCC secretariat, over 74 organisations representing the various regions of the world have been mobilised and a steering committee was inaugurated with a deadline of eight weeks to develop an operational manual and governing structure that will superintend over the anticipated caucus.
“Our goal,” according to Peters, who is also a clergyman, “is to ensure that by the next COP in Egypt we should be organised enough to be recognised by the UNFCCC.”
On his part, the deputy chairman of the steering committee, His Royal Majesty (HRM) Dr. Goodluck Obi, commended the initiator of this proposal for her thoughtfulness, urging other members to show more concerted efforts to ensure that the objective of this platform is realised.
Dr. Obi, while reinforcing the historical background and efforts to establish the Health NGO, traced its journey back to COP15 in Copenhagen, a vital point he believes should be highlighted in seeking this demand.
Other issues raised by the committee members include the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stand on the mental health of people mostly on women and children, the need for climate change information to be spread across spaces in simple languages to enhance public knowledge, and the significance of partnering with the Ministry of Health to successfully implement and achieve this campaign goal.
By Etta Michael Bisong, Abuja