350 organisations representing over 40 million health professionals as well as over 4,500 individual health professionals from 90 different countries have written to the G20 leaders calling for a #HealthyRecovery, as they begin to plan for the aftermath of the COVID19 pandemic.
The pandemic has revealed the fragile bonds which bind our communities together, when our health, food security and freedom to work are interrupted by a common threat, as well as the inequality and under-investment in public health systems which have hampered efforts to tackle the crisis.
Even before COVID-19, they argue, air pollution – primarily from traffic, inefficient residential energy use for cooking and heating, coal-fired power plants, the burning of solid waste, and agriculture practices – has already weakened our bodies, increasing the risk of developing, and the severity of: pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer, heart disease and strokes, leading to seven million premature deaths each year. Air pollution also causes adverse pregnancy outcomes like low birth weight and asthma, putting further strain on our health care systems.
They have set out a vision for a truly healthy recovery, which does not allow pollution to continue to cloud the air we breathe and the water we drink and for an economy and society which looks after the most vulnerable, work does not exacerbate pollution or nature degradation; cities prioritise pedestrians, cyclists and public transport, and our rivers and skies are protected and clean. Nature is thriving, our bodies are more resilient to infectious diseases, and nobody is pushed into poverty because of healthcare costs.
To achieve this, they are calling on the G20 leaders to reform current fossil fuel subsidies, shifting the majority towards the production of clean renewable energy, which would result in cleaner air, lower climate emissions, powering an economic recovery spurring global GDP gains of almost 100 trillion US dollars between now and 2050. They are also calling for national chief medical officers and scientific advisors to be directly involved in the production of all economic stimulus packages, report on the short- and long-term public health repercussions that these may have, to ensure they benefit population health.
The full list of signatories is available here.