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HEAL webinar: Climate change through a health lens in Serbia

As part of HEAL’s continuing engagement with medical professionals in the Balkans region, a webinar recently took place to discuss the links between climate change and health, with a special focus on the work of the Ministry of Health in Serbia in managing and mitigating the consequences of climate change.



Climate change is affecting the social and environmental determinants of health - clean air, safe water, sufficient food and secure shelter. At the same time, measures to mitigate climate change can bring many additional benefits primarily to public health. HEAL’s recent webinar acted as an opportunity to shed light on actions taken by health professionals worldwide as well as measures implemented by the Serbian Ministry of Health in the context of and reflecting on last year’s UN Climate negotiations COP21.

The webinar was moderated by HEAL’s Health and Energy Officer for the Balkans region, Vlatka Matković Puljić and speakers included Dr. Vesna Knjeginjić, Public Health Assistant of the Serbian Minister of Health; Professor Dr. Marija Jevtić of the Medical School of Novi Sad, and Vijoleta Gordeljević, HEAL’s Health and Climate Change Coordinator.

Dr. Vesna Knjeginjić explained how Serbia is planning on taking the necessary measures with regards to climate change, considering the country has experienced its harmful effects in 2014 when Serbia was struck by the worst flooding in 120 years.

"The health ministry is actively working on the issue of climate change as [with the recent flooding] we have had some unpleasant experiences related to the topic ourselves. We view it as a public health issue that we work on in close collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection as well as with several NGOs."

The panelists discussed the crucial role of health professionals in advocating for climate action. Professor Dr. Marija Jevtić reflected on the agreement made during the COP21 summit and noted it “has broad implications on a political, economic and public health front." She continued explaining what role she believes health professionals have to play in the debate around climate change, "the health profession can protect people from the negative impacts of climate change. And although this is not our main responsibility, the role we play is essential because of its impact on the individual as well as on the population as a whole."

Vijoleta Gordeljevic pointed out the specific role that health professionals can play around energy issues internationally. She adds “the debate around the phase out of fossil fuels is one area health professionals can get involved in by informing about the harmful effects that for example coal has on human health”.

The webinar in Serbian is available for streaming on Youtube.

Last updated on 30 June 2016

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The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) is a leading European not-for-profit organisation addressing how the environment affects health in the European Union (EU). We demonstrate how policy changes can help protect health and enhance people’s quality of life. Read more »

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