Trillions of dollars, euros and yuan pouring into post-pandemic economies must build a “healthy and green recovery,” 200 medical groups representing 40 million health professionals worldwide yesterday told G20 leaders in an open letter.
The 20 nations accounting for 90 percent of global GDP should prioritize investment in public health, clean air, clean water and a stable climate in order to boost resilience against future health crises, the letter said.
“We have witnessed first-hand how fragile communities can be when their health, food security and freedom to work are interrupted by a common threat,” the letter said, describing the COVID-19 pandemic that has sickened more than 5.5 million and claimed nearly 350,000 lives since the start of the year.
“These effects could have been partially mitigated, or possibly even prevented, by adequate investments in pandemic preparedness, public health and environmental stewardship,” it said.
The next G20 summit is scheduled for November. A meeting of G7 leaders next month was scrapped due to the global health crisis, but US President Donald Trump last week said it could still take place at the White House and Camp David.
Backed by the WHO and the Global Climate and Health Alliance, the letter highlighted the health-wrecking impact of air pollution, which causes about 7 million premature deaths each year.
“Before COVID-19, air pollution was already weakening our bodies,” the World Medical Association, the International Council of Nurses, the World Organization of Family Doctors and 200 other groups said.
“A truly healthy economy will not allow pollution to continue to cloud the air we breathe and the water we drink,” the letter said.
“It will not allow unabated climate change and deforestation, potentially unleashing new health threats upon vulnerable populations,” it said.
Promoting the hashtag #HealthyRecovery, the appeal called for removing hundreds of billions of dollars in subsidies for oil, gas and coal, the main drivers of global warming and air pollution.
It also underscored the need to boost renewable energy, such as solar and wind power.
“Healthy lives depend on a healthy planet,” World Medical Association president Miguel Jorge said. “We need a comprehensive approach, a healthy and green recovery, and we need it now.”
Health workers — from cleaning crews to doctors, in hospitals and nursing homes — have been hit especially hard by the pandemic.
While there is no official tally, tens of thousands have been infected with the virus, and hundreds have died.
At the beginning of this month, the International Council of Nurses reported that at least 90,000 nurses worldwide — possibly twice as many — had caught the virus.
Hundreds of health professionals have died, including many during the initial outbreak in Wuhan, China.
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