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The WHO's new research agenda for climate change and health is a welcome effort towards making health considerations count for more in a post-Kyoto world, says an editorial in The Lancet.

At a meeting of 80 international experts in Madrid, Spain, last week, a research plan with five priorities was agreed on for the WHO. These include identifying effective measures to strengthen public health systems; assessing the impact of non-health sector policy decisions; comparing the effectiveness of short-term interventions; and characterising indirect effects of climate change, such as the risk of conflict.

The timing of this agenda is key, says the editorial — in December 2009, a successor to the Kyoto Protocol will be agreed on in Copenhagen, Denmark and some of the work outlined in the agenda will be important to inform discussions.

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