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Minister Risikko: Not enough debate in Finland about how climate change affects health

Ministry of Social Affairs and Health
Publication date 24.6.2008 8.45
Press release -

“Finland has been setting trends in many areas. I would, however, like to highlight one particular area where we need more debate than at present especially from the health perspective, that is, climate change and its health impacts”, said the Minister of Health and Social Services Paula Risikko in the joint press conference with the WHO Director-General Margaret Chan in Helsinki on June 24.

“In recent years, heatwaves, drought, and floods have caused more and more havoc all over the world. Climate change and especially the effects of weather extremes are a serious threat to health. A concrete example of this is the morbidity and increased mortality during heatwaves. Risk groups include cardiac patients who get exhausted by heat and elderly people whose blood vascular system is no longer as effective as with young adults.”

Minister Risikko stated that the complex interconnection of climate change and diseases is visible also in Finland.

“For example the tick, a vector for brain fever, has become more common and widespread, which may be a result of climate change. Another example of global warming is that the growing season is extending in Finland, which makes it more profitable to cultivate food, but at the same time the number of allergenic elements is growing and their season is getting longer,” said Minister Risikko.

“Climate change affects our health both directly and through the measures we use to control it. As we must adjust ourselves to direct global emission effects, we in Finland must take part in reducing global emissions in accordance with agreements,” Minister Risikko stressed.

“The development of broad-based health systems is of utmost importance also in future. We need the Health in All Policies approach even in dealing with climate issues. Changing the focus from corrective work to prevention and health promotion is a necessary step for ensuring our ability to take care of everyone even in future. We need great changes in our ways of thinking and acting, and I believe we can achieve that by working closely with WHO,” Minister Risikko concluded.

For further information please contact:

Ministerial Adviser Taru Koivisto, tel. +358 9 160 73166, +358 50 327 8352, Senior Medical Officer Mikko Paunio, tel. +358 9 160 74123, +358 50 577 1968, Secretary to the Minister Satu Saarela, tel. +358 9 160 73779, 050 301 3990

Paula Risikko
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