Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad on Sunday said developed nations should take the lead in combating climate change, maintaining that developing countries were not responsible for ‘green house’ gases concentration as their per capita emissions are still very low.
Mr. Azad also asked the South Asian countries to maintain a “steadfast unity” to ensure that developed countries take steps to fulfil their responsibility that has specifically been recognised by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
The minister made the statement while addressing the 5th Asia Pacific Conference on Reproductive and Sexual Health and Rights (APCRSHR) in Beijing.
“The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change has specifically recognised that parties should take action to protect the climate system...on the basis of equity and in accordance with their common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.
“Accordingly, the developed country parties should take the lead in combating climate change and the adverse effects thereof.
“We, the countries of the South should maintain steadfast unity to ensure that these obligations are met by the developed countries,” he said.
Describing the climate change and its impact as one of the “grave challenges” before the developing countries, he said comity of nations is yet to be able to reach an acceptable solution to deal with this threat.
“We in the developing world are not responsible for the concentration of Green House Gases in the atmosphere. Our per capita emissions are still very low when compared to those of developed countries. And yet we are the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change,” Mr. Azad said.
He said some of impacts of climate change are already in evidence “in our countries in the form of extreme weather events, extension of vector-borne diseases to new areas and altitudes, disruption in the water balance“.
These impacts are already creating distress and impoverishment which has a direct relationship with universal access to affordable healthcare, he added.
On the issue of health, he said the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) could not be achieved unless investment is made in sexual and reproductive health.
“We have made inroads in sexual and reproductive health and rights, but we also need to chart a course on where we are going and what should be our priorities over the coming years to secure sexual and reproductive health and rights for all,” he said.
Mr. Azad admitted that burden of maternal and child mortality is very high in India even though the country has made rapid economic strides in the recent past.
The areas that require redoubled efforts include literacy, nutrition, maternal and neo-natal mortality, he added.