LAHORE: The Rockefeller Foundation-Lancet Commission in its report on planetary health has called for immediate global action to protect the health of human civilisation and the natural systems on which it depends.

The global foundation which worked to promote health and education released its report in Pakistan on Thursday after its launch in various other countries including the USA.

The report is being launched in Pakistan at a ceremony in Islamabad on Friday (today). Many global experts are attending the mega activity.

The report, Safeguarding Human Health in the Anthropocene Epoch, provides the first-ever comprehensive examination of evidence showing how the health and well-being of future generations is being jeopardised by the unprecedented degradation of the planet’s natural resources and ecological systems.

The report was written by a commission of 15 leading academics and policymakers from institutions in eight countries, including Dr Sania Nishtar, president of Heartfile Pakistan.

It demonstrates how human activity and development have pushed to near breaking point the boundaries of the natural systems that support and sustain human civilisations.

The commission outlines a range of beneficial policies and actions that can be taken by governments, international organisations, researchers, health professionals and citizens that are good for both health and the environment.

Examples include benefits from reduced air pollution, healthy diets with more fruit and vegetables, active transport (walking and cycling), reduced urban heat stress from green spaces, and increased resilience to coastal flooding from intact wetlands and mangroves. In addition, the report identifies some major gaps in evidence and the research that is needed.

The commission warns that a rising population, unsustainable consumption and the over-use of natural resources will exacerbate these health challenges in the future. The world’s poorest communities will be among those at greatest risk, as they live in areas that are most strongly affected and have greater sensitivity to disease and poor health.

Dr. Sania Nishtar said the health of nations, and the planet are deeply interconnected.

“We need a new paradigm of governance to promote collaborative inter-sectoral action for solving sectoral objectives,” the Heartfile Pakistan president said.

The solutions to these clear and potent dangers are within reach, says the report, but the world needs to take decisive, coordinated action to protect the environment and secure the health of future generations.

The commission also furnished recommendations stating that policies and initiatives need to be designed to promote more efficient use of current resources.

It said the leaders need to take initiatives to reduce the risks to health and vital ecosystems, and implement policies to reduce subsidies that block sustainable practices, encourage behavioral change, incentivise the private sector, support research, and promote public discourse.

It further recommended that the environmental health needs must be integrated into health budgeting and purchasing.

Published in Dawn, July 24th, 2015

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