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Minister's of Health of the Republic of Lithuania Speech on “The link between climate and health” (WHO)


2014 05 21

Minister's of Health of the Republic of Lithuania Speech on “The link between climate and health” (WHO)
Minister's of Health of the Republic of Lithuania Speech on “The link between climate and health” (WHO)

The Sixty-seventh session of the World Health Assembly (WHA) takes place in Geneva during 19–24 May 2014. The WHA is the supreme decision-making body of WHO. It is attended by delegations from all WHO Member States and focuses on a specific health agenda prepared by the Executive Board. The main functions of the WHA are to determine the policies of the Organization, appoint the Director-General, supervise financial policies, and review and approve the proposed programme budget. The Health Assembly is held annually in Geneva, Switzerland.



Mr. Vytenis Povilas Andriukaitis

 Minister of Health of the Republic of Lithuania

Speech on “The link between climate and health”


Mr. President,

Honorable Ministers,

Excellencies and Distinguished Colleagues,


It is an honor for me to be here and to have an opportunity to share views on the efforts addressing climate change and health.


Lithuania fully aligns itself with the statement made by Greece on behalf of the 28 EU Member states.


Honorable Assembly, distinguished colleagues, yesterday we all heard the Director General’s statement. It clearly described the situation of the last 10 years, which was caused by uncontrolled greenhouse effect, climate change, and extinction of forests – evident phenomena that cause problems for the health sector. About 7 million people die every year. Can we image these figures in reality?


The statements of other colleagues, such as Australia, Maldives and others, clearly showed that desertification, rise of the level of seas, global warming cause pandemics outbreaks, shortage of fresh water, insufficient nutrition and negatively affect the quality of lives for millions of people.  


It also affects all the population despite their gender, race, age, economic and social status of individual. But some are more vulnerable than others. As we all know people facing social inequity, elderly, people with chronic diseases, pregnant women, children and isolated people are most vulnerable to negative climate change effects and burden. A large number of deaths of pregnant women and newborns was reported and we have no right to ignore that. Social determinants depend social injustice worldwide.


To be able to face these challenges, Millennium Development Goals and UN Rio+20 programs were adopted but unfortunately the goals have not been achieved as States and relevant international organizations do not reach consensus. We see that market forces are being deaf to the achievement of MDGs and stopping the negative changes in climate. Sustainable development is still an appropriate response to the ignorant market forces.

WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco control could serve as a good example for balancing international instruments for common actions against profit driven market.

During the Lithuania’s presidency of the EU Council, we managed to overcome tobacco lobbyists and reach our objectives in EU.

Therefore it is our obligation to join our efforts to be able to effectively respond to the health challenges climate change poses.


Health sector is not the only one which is sensitive and vulnerable to changing climate. Continuous development of adaptation strategies, policies, and measures is essential. And since it is clear that climate change has multiple effects, evidently one sector alone is not capable to cope with existing challenges.


Many policies have potential measures to reduce the causes of the climate change that affect health of the population, for example: less use of transportation, more active movement, recycling, the use of alternative sources of energy, safe working and living conditions, consumer safety of products and services, favorable conditions for recreation, reducing air, water and soil pollution. The transition to green economy and green energy and Eco production must be considered the right path to follow. If no investments are made in this sphere, we will not be able to influence and prevent the negative impact of climate change to health.


For concerted international intersetorial actions the framework of the WHO International Health Regulation could be the solution. We are convinced that all the international organizations should coordinate their actions and work to diminish the causes and effects of the changing climate.

World Trade Organization, World Bank, International monetary fund, United Nations High Level Committee Working Group on Climate Change and World Health Organization must work together and find the solutions.

We all agree that „Health in All Policies“, intersectorial approach, common action on local, regional, national, and international levels involving all actors in coordination work is a right way, but it is so difficult to improve it in real life.


Lithuania pays a lot of attention to the threats changing climate poses to health. Therefore the National Strategy for Climate Change Management Policy has been adopted in 2012 combining energy, industry, transport, agriculture, forestry as well as public health sector.  Lithuania attempts to improve inter-institutional and inter-sectorial cooperation.


Lithuania puts efforts in raising awareness that climate change is a fundamental threat to human health and is cooperating with all the stakeholders to efficiently improve certain measures implementation at the same time better adaptation, education on climate change topic.

We must think globally, so that we all can act locally and be able to secure our future! We are obligated to improve universal health coverage in all our countries.

Thank you for your attention!