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Planetary health is key in safeguarding the health of Cornwall's residents

Behaviours that damage the health of the planet may also be damaging our own future health as well, according to Cornwall’s Annual Report of the Director of Public Health.

Without a change, a child born today will face a world that is, on average, 4°C warmer by their 71st birthday – putting their health under threat for a range of reasons, including extreme weather, new infectious diseases, pollution and psychological stress.

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The annual report, which this year focusses on planetary health, was published this week. It has been authored by the Director of Public Health for Cornwall and was written prior to the widespread outbreak of Covid-19.

However, the director does address how Covid-19 reinforces the call to action to protect the planet and therefore safeguard our health.

Cornwall Council’s Interim Director of Public Health, Rachel Wigglesworth, said: “This report is a call to action to reconnect with our planet, protect it and enjoy the benefits.

“The virus has clearly highlighted the connections between humans, animals and the planet, and how human activity can lead to the emergence of new diseases.”

The report discusses the impact that environmental degradation has on health and wellbeing, measures being taken to address the issues presented, and recommends positive action designed to prevent further environmental harm and improve health and wellbeing.

Cornwall Council portfolio holder for children, wellbeing and public health, Sally Hawken said: “The changes made to the way we live during the pandemic has helped some us to appreciate some of the more positive effects on the environment and in turn, our health. Less cars on the road meant cleaner air, reduced carbon emissions from road and air traffic and more opportunity for physical activity.

“These are all positive things that we can consider and take forward when it comes to planning how we can move forward while we recover from the more negative impacts the virus has had on us.”

Cllr Hawken added: “This report also complements the council’s declaration of a climate emergency, making those very clear links between the health of our planet and the health of those that live on it. It’s imperative that we take this moment to assess what we can all do differently to help protect our planet, following all of the changes we have experienced over the last few months.”

The Annual Report is a professional statement about the health of local communities, of use to both professionals and the public. The overarching aim of the Director of Public Health Annual Report is to contribute to improving the health and well-being of local populations.

Steps taken to implement recommendations detailed in the Annual Report would benefit the health and wellbeing of Cornwall residents for generations to come.

Read the report

Story created on 12 August 2020