The World Health Organization has released a Manifesto that details guidelines on how the world can make a healthy and “green” recovery from COVID-19.
Announcing the manifesto at the recent 73rd World Health Assembly on May 18, 2020, WHO director-general, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the deadly pandemic that has gripped the world in recent months was “a reminder of the intimate and delicate relationship between people and the planet.”
He warned that unless we are able to address the critical link between pathogens and people, and the increasingly serious threats of climate change, any efforts we attempt to make to ensure that our world is a safer place will be doomed.
He said COVID-19 has been the most alarming global shock in decades, with hundreds and thousands of deaths, and a world economy that is quickly sliding into the most severe downturn since the 1930s, and that societies must protect themselves so that they can recoup as soon as possible.
Around the world, finance ministries are leading the way by defining COVID-19 economic recovery packages and governments are committing trillions of dollars to maintain and revive global economies. The intention is that the livelihoods of people will be safeguarded so that their health will also be protected.
But, he said, it is vital for medical officers around the world to be involved too. Furthermore, there is an integral connection between the economy, health, and the environment that must never be overlooked.
Since COVID-19 first hit in early 2020, infections have spread rapidly, and international response systems haven’t been able to stop them. As a result, a large number of people all over the world (including wealthy countries) have been stranded without reliable or low-cost gateway to medical treatment. Huge inequalities have led to death and lost jobs in poorer communities and minority groups.
The New Normal
Dr. Ghebreyesus warned that the global community cannot return to life the way it was before COVID-19. Apart from anything else, the way mankind has been endeavouring to conserve money by disregarding social safety nets, emergency vigilance, health structures, and environmental protection has, he said, been economized. And now we are paying that bill over and over again.
It doesn’t matter whether future disasters arise from another pandemic or climate change and ever-increasing environmental damage, it isn’t good enough to go back to what we previously perceived to be “normal”.
Although not pinpointed as a “new normal” lifestyle, the Manifesto does draw attention to the fact that due to global lockdown measures, pollution levels in certain areas have dropped so radically that there are people who have been able to breathe fresh, clean air, see azure skies and pure water in lakes and rivers, and have been allowed to walk or cycle securely with their kids for the very first-time.
The Manifesto also highlights the fact that there have been opinion polls during the lockdown period and people worldwide have stated that they desire to preserve the environment and sustain the positive factors that have become apparent from the COVID-19 crisis as the planet and its populations recover.
WHO Manifesto Lists Prescriptions for Recovery
The WHO Manifesto lists six actions that will aid a wholesome, environment centered recovery.
Safeguard and conserve nature, which is the source of human health
Every global economy is the result of wholesome human societies that depend on the natural surroundings, which is the source of clean air, food, and water. Human activities have put enormous pressure on every element of the environment, with intensive agriculture that pollutes the ground and air, the unreliable management and utilization of animals, and deforestation. This also increases the risks that emerging diseases that originate from wild animals will in fact human populations.
This prescription aims to lessen human impact on the environment so that risks are reduced at the source. At the same time, strategies Planned after recovering from COVID-19 must, says WHO, go beyond early detection of virus outbursts and their control. There must also be plans to lessen the danger of epidemics and pandemics in the future.
Spend in the full spectrum of essential services
It is a brutal fact that plenty of people worldwide don’t have the most important fundamental services needed to maintain their health. These include water and sanitation as well as clean energy in healthcare facilities. It is impossible to prevent the spread of disease when around 40% of families worldwide don’t even have facilities to wash their hands. Pathogens are antimicrobial-resistant are prevalent in waste and water and it vital that steps are taken to prevent them from spreading to humans. This is why so much emphasis has been put on washing hands thoroughly during the COVID-19 outbreak. Additionally, medical personnel and health workers need reliable energy to carry out procedures. They also need occupational protection.
A horrifying statistic highlighted by WHO is that about 25% of total fatalities globally are caused by environmental and occupational risks that could have been avoided. For this reason, it is essential for nations to invest in essential services, and whatever will help protect health, ensure that health care procedures are resilient to climatic conditions, as well as environmental regulations. Not only will this be a vital guard against future disasters, done correctly, it will also offer some excellent refund for society for as a whole. One example given in the WHO Manifesto is that investment in the Clean Air Act of the United Nations has benefited US citizens, not only in enhanced air quality that has led to better health but also in dollars.
One step building owners and operators can take immediately is to get a COVID-19 Resilient Building Report for indoor air quality to find out how vulnerable the building is to coronavirus, and then what prevention and improvement measures can be taken to eliminate health hazards.
Ensure there is a quick and sound vitality changeover
Coronavirus attacks the lungs and so it is vital to ensure that air pollution is minimized. But even before COVID-19, more than 7-million people reportedly died every year from experiencing the various types of air pollution. These accounted for one in eight deaths worldwide. An even more startling statistic quoted by WHO is that more than 90% of individuals inhale air outdoors that has pollution levels that are higher than air quality instruction values provided by WHO. Worse still, 66% of the exposure to pollution outdoors relates to the smoldering of the same plants and animal remains responsible for climate change. It really is a vicious triangle!
On the bright side, sustainable energy resources and the storage of renewable energy is dropping in price, increasing in dependability, and leading to more employment opportunities.
Promote food systems that are healthy and sustainable
A negative factor that has emerged in many parts of the world during this ongoing pandemic is the inability to gain an access to food. In any case, this and the consumption of high-calorie, unhealthy diets are singled out by WHO as the “only biggest reason of global bad health.” This also leads to diseases like diabetes and obesity which have been identified as major factors of risk for sickness and fatality resulting from the pandemic, COVID-19.
WHO has dietary guidelines which the organization believes will reduce the risks of disease and save millions of lives. Because agriculture is a major contributor to the greenhouse gas emanations globally, changing the use of land would, says WHO, be the only major environmental originators of new outbreaks of the disease.
Build cities that are healthy and easy to live in
More than half the people in the world live in cities largely because they offer employment opportunities. But cities are at fault for 60% secretions of the greenhouse gases even though they also offer about the same percentage of economic activity opportunities.
The solutions include limiting traffic, by offering better public transport and encouraging pedaling and walking. This potentially brings with it health benefits as well as reducing road traffic harms and air pollution.
It is worth noting that during the pandemic, some of the world’s largest cities including Paris, London, and Milan have expanded cycle lanes and made them easier for pedestrians to use.
Engineers play a vital role in the development of cities, particularly those that offer heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) and mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) engineering design services.
Put a stop to spending taxpayers’ income to pay for harmful pollution
Every government in the world has already suffered economical loss resulted from Corona virus and it’s not going to get better any time soon. WHO suggests that a good recovery plan will be to start with funding of fossil fuels rather than using tax payers’ money to subsidize the animals and plants remains that are fueling hugely harmful climate shift and, at the same time, resulting air contamination. This, they say, will help financially and through our health, since our lungs are constantly affected by air pollution.
Ultimately, if lives, livelihoods, and the environment are going to be protected, people are going to have to go the extra mile and more to support policies set up to do just this.
Global populations have joined forces to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, and increasingly millions are demanding action on biodiversity and climate and the right to breathe clean air. Our future depends on it!