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Atlas of health and climate launches new collaboration between public health and meteorological communities

November 2012

As the world's climate continues to change, hazards to human health are increasing. The Atlas of health and climate, published today jointly by the WHO (World Health Organisation) and the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) illustrates some of the most pressing current and emerging challenges.

Droughts, floods and cyclones affect the health of millions of people each year. Climate variability and extreme conditions such as floods can also trigger epidemics of diseases such as diarrhoea, malaria, dengue and meningitis, which cause death and suffering for many millions more. The Atlas gives practical examples of how the use of weather and climate information can protect public health.

Climate risk management

"Prevention and preparedness are the heart of public health. Risk management is our daily bread and butter. Information on climate variability and climate change is a powerful scientific tool that assists us in these tasks," said Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of WHO. "Climate has a profound impact on the lives, and survival, of people. Climate services can have a profound impact on improving these lives, also through better health outcomes."

Until now, climate services have been an underutilized resource for public health.

"Stronger cooperation between the meteorological and health communities is essential to ensure that up-to-date, accurate and relevant information on weather and climate is integrated into public health management at international, national and local levels. This Atlas is an innovative and practical example of how we can work together to serve society," said WMO Secretary-General Mr Michel Jarraud.

Links between health and climate

Numerous maps, tables and graphs assembled in the Atlas make the links between health and climate more explicit:

Global Framework for Climate Services

The Atlas was released at an Extraordinary Session of the World Meteorological Congress, held in Geneva, Switzerland from 29-31 October 2012. The Congress discussed the structure and implementation of the draft Global Framework for Climate Services.

The framework is a United Nations-wide initiative spearheaded by WMO to strengthen the provision of climate services to the benefit of society, especially the most vulnerable. The health sector is one of the top four priorities, alongside food security, water management and disaster risk reduction.

Climate information can be used to protect health through risk reduction, preparedness and response in all countries with major benefits for health outcomes and development.

More on the roles of WMO and WHO

The WMO is the United Nations system's authoritative voice on weather, climate and water.

WHO is the directing and coordinating authority for health within the United Nations system. It is responsible for providing leadership on global health matters, shaping the health research agenda, setting norms and standards, articulating evidence-based policy options, providing technical support to countries and monitoring and assessing health trends.

For more information please contact: Nada Osseiran, WHO Communications Officer (Public Health and Environment) | Tel: +41 22 791 4475 | Mobile: +41 79 445 1624 | E-mail: