Climate Change and Health – The Link
CEESP News: Suryakanta Acharya. The impacts of climate change on health and health care are being recognized of late. The rising temperatures and the increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events are of grave concern to all life forms on earth and patients are no exception.
Photo: Maxim Tolchinskiy, Unsplash
The impacts of climate change on health and health care are being recognized of late. The rising temperatures and the increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events are of grave concern to all life forms on earth and patients are no exception. In response to these grave dangers, many in the health care industry are implementing mitigation and resilience strategies to remain relevant in future.
There is a good opportunity for health professionals to help patients see and realize the connections between climate change and their health. This fact is fundamentally driven by our goal to prevent harm and improve health. As patients see these connections, climate change becomes personal, and action becomes a prescription for improving health.
The burning of fossil fuels is the root cause of both air pollution and climate change ultimately affecting our health. Patients suffer most from this effect. While the direct harms are more easily identified, it is challenging to see the indirect harms and ways in which climate change affects health and worsens inequities. We can no longer use a rearview mirror to understand the threats ahead, and health care can’t adequately prepare for what it doesn’t fully understand. Thus, we must rapidly generate and disseminate the evidence required to guide our befitting response.
Oftentimes, mitigation may seem abstract since it is acting upstream to get to the root cause, but resiliency and sustainability must go hand in hand. The vicious cycle of health care contributing to air pollution and climate change must stop, else it will harm the patients and threatens delivery of health care. We must respond now; otherwise, it will be much harder to handle later.
I must admit as a doctor, the healthcare industry understands climate change poorly. Having said that, every step must be taken to educate the healthcare industry not only to understand the issue, but to take steps to mitigate the effects of climate change. This needs active participation of healthcare workers in climate change events. That would be a progressive step for the healthcare industry as well as for the climate.
A Radiation oncologis