The Minister of Health chairs the opening session of the annual symposium of the National Life Sciences Ethics Board.
Specialization is a path brought about by progress and it remains important to continue it in various fields, but society will benefit from a more comprehensive and integrated vision of various sectors, especially in the fields of human health, animal health and environmental health. This was one of the messages left by the Minister of Health, Manuel Pizarro, who on Friday, November 3, chaired the official opening session of the annual “One Health/One Ethics” symposium, organized by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. National Ethics Committee for the Life Sciences (CNECV).
Through this international conference, CNECV aims to promote a broad debate on some of the key issues addressed by the broad concept of One Health, where human, animal and environmental health intersect in the search for a common language and practice capable of proposing global sustainability strategies. Which will have an impact on the practice of citizenship, health, and training of future generations.
The Minister of Health considered that the pandemic, and more recently the conflict in Ukraine and the conflict in the Middle East, were a warning about the importance of health and the existence of joint action between different regions and different countries. “Without health there is nothing, not even the economy,” Manuel Pizarro stressed.
In the face of the instability and conflicts we are witnessing, Manuel Pizarro said, “We need an ethic of responsibility that allows us to put people and humanity once again at the center of concerns.” He insisted that the data supports “more than the need and urgency” of this paradigm shift.
Many studies indicate the impact of climate change on chronic diseases and emerging infectious diseases. A recent Nature article, from 2022, noted that 58% of pathogenic diseases in humans are exacerbated by climate-related risks, such as greenhouse gas emissions.
The Minister of Health noted that “every year, in Europe alone, exposure to pollution is linked to more than 300,000 premature deaths” linked to environmental risks. “Climate change increases the risk of old and emerging diseases in new geographic areas, reduces food sustainability and worsens conditions of poverty, which is a major determinant of the health and well-being of populations,” he stressed.
The government official realizes that health cannot be left out of this path, especially since it is an activity that consumes a lot of resources and has a large environmental footprint.
Manuel Pizarro said that citizens realize the necessity of this path and that they are the ones who push us to change. As part of the “Conference on the Future of Europe”, a survey was conducted in the 27 member states of the European Union at the end of 2021. According to the results, 66% of the Portuguese people considered health-related issues to be the main issue. The main global challenge for the future of the European Union, followed by climate change, which worried 56% of Portuguese people.
On the part of the Ministry of Health, the Minister stressed that ethics in all policies is a priority and that all ongoing projects – that is, investments implemented using the Recovery and Resilience Plan – respond to this challenge. But in conclusion, he stressed that the paradigm shift must go further. “What we are talking about is no longer measuring health by the amount of care we provide. The NHS provides an amount of care that is unprecedented in its history. We have to value health promotion in a different way,” he stressed.
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