Medical students, climate change and health: an unorthodox combination

Climate Change EU

(European Environmental Agency, 2017)

This article was exclusively written for the Sting by Mr Ankit Raj, a final year MBBS student from Kasturba Medical College, Manipal, India . He is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA). However, the opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writers and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

The Lancet has called climate change “the biggest global health threat of the 21st century.” When we think of climate change, we no longer think of just rising sea levels. Climate mayhem has come home and it’s impacting your most powerful ally- Healthcare.

The health impacts of climate change include aggravating emergent and re-emergent diseases, extreme weather-related mortality and injuries, heat-related emergencies, increase in asthma and allergies, rapid spread of infectious diseases, mental health disorders and growing health impacts due to population displacement and climate-impacted instability.

While we look at these impacts of climate change on health and diseases, we must also begin to analyze and address healthcare sector’s climate footprint and take necessary steps wherever required. The greenhouse gases it emits, waste it produces and energy and resources it consumes, directly or indirectly affects climate.

Given these distressing warning signals, we must engage healthcare sector in climate change mitigation and preparedness. We must prepare for a public health storm that threatens to devour majority of underprepared communities across the world.

As we begin to evaluate the enormous impact of climate change on healthcare, medical students are in a position to educate the public and help prepare them for these impacts. As we enjoy an unprecedented role as positive messengers for health in society, we can play a profound role in policy changes and awareness campaigns around climate change and health.1

Medical students must engage in education and awareness of health professionals and public at large, on climate change and health. An advocacy for implementation of ‘Seven elements of a climate-friendly hospital’, as formulated by WHO, should be at the forefront of this awareness campaign.2 Students’ organizations like IFMSA must form meaningful collaboration with organizations such as Health Care Without Harm, that are already working in  this field, and advocate for significant policies around climate change and health care at WHO and national governments. Multi-disciplinary collaboration with students and organizations from other sectors such as engineering, architecture, transportation, energy and waste management with a focus on innovation of sustainable technology and diverse projects can scale up the impact of this campaign.

As medical students, we can also work with our medical schools to integrate climate literacy into medical curriculum or to develop workshops on climate change and health that focuses on its impacts and mitigation. Medical students also have a privileged position in society and powerful voice in communities. We can use our experience and passion to elevate the awareness on climate change and raise the voice on policy advocacy through blogs, op-eds, articles, research projects and social media campaigning.3

As future doctors, who will make clinical decisions that could have consequences for the environment, we must determine to become an informed advocate for climate mitigation and adaptation efforts. We must also lead by example by doing our part to understand and minimize our own climate footprint.

References:

  1. Cohen, Gary. What does Climate Change Have to Do With Health Care? 7 April, 2013. forbes.com
  2. Healthy Hospitals, Healthy Planet, Healthy People. Addressing climate change in health care settings. Discussion Draft. World Health Organizations, Health Care Without Harm.
  3. “Medical Students Must Act On Climate Change – US Climate And Health Alliance”. US Climate and Health Alliance. N.p., 2017. Web. 1 July 2017.

About the author

Ankit Raj is a final year MBBS student from Kasturba Medical College, Manipal, India and a member of IFMSA. He is passionately interested in global health, global surgery, digital health and medical curriculum. Currently, he is also serving as a part of Education team at International Student Surgical Network (InciSioN).

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Featured Stings

Who will win the AI race? If countries work together, then the answer could be all of us

Europe on the Move: Commission completes its agenda for safe, clean and connected mobility

90% of fish stocks are used up – fisheries subsidies must stop

Everyone has ‘a moral imperative’ to uphold the rights of persons with disabilities, says UN chief

EU leads the torn away South Sudan to a new bloody civil war

‘Habitual residence’ rules deprive EU workers from social benefits

EU Parliament and Council: Close to agreement on the bank resolution mechanism

Brexit negotiations: back to square one, tougher words, no good faith

EU unfolds strategy on the Egypt question

“If the job market doesn’t exist, then even the most brilliant Youth Guarantee cannot ensure a job to these young people”, European Youth Forum Secretary General Giuseppe Porcaro on another Sting Exclusive

The importance of pre-departure training for a better understanding of global health issues

Beware the fragility of the global economy

New skills agenda for Europe needs real investment

More solidarity and interaction between generations needed to challenge age stereotypes and ingrained ageism

“We have to do a better job of creating alternatives to violent extremism”, US Secretary of State John Kerry from Switzerland; the Sting reports live from World Economic Forum 2015 in Davos

Mood changes in Europe in favour of growth and jobs

8000 young people in the EP in Strasbourg: “a breath of fresh air for EU democracy”

EU Commission draws the wrong conclusions

The UK to split if May’s hard or no-deal Brexit is pursued

Alarming level of reprisals against activists, human rights defenders, and victims – new UN report

Can Kiev make face to mounting economic problems and social unrest?

A Sting Exclusive: “Climate change and youth inaction: oblivion or nonchalance?”, AIESEC wonders from Brussels

Act now to end violence, Zeid urges Nicaraguan authorities

Why EU’s working and unemployed millions remain uncertain or even desperate about their future

The financial sector cripples Eurozone growth prospects

Why are the financial markets shivering again?

Switzerland to introduce strict restrictions on executive pay

Bankruptcy or referendum: which one is going to be first?

Nuclear non-proliferation treaty an ‘essential pillar’ of international peace, says UN chief

These coastal countries are sinking the fastest

“Is Europe innovative? Oh, Yes we are very innovative!”, Director General of the European Commission Mr Robert-Jan Smits on another Sting Exclusive

Migration Crisis: how to open the borders and make way for the uprooted

On the detention of children in the United States of America

Is Eurozone heading for disinflation?

Copyright: European Union , 2017; Source: EC - Audiovisual Service; Photo: Frank Molter

EU hits deadlock on the future of glyphosate a month before deadline

Eurozone: Sovereign debt decreases for the first time since 2007

COP21 Breaking News_03 December: Argentina Accepts KP Amendment

A reflection of health inequity in recent epidemics

Intel @ European Business Summit 2014: Better decisions now, the new business dashboard 

MEPs to vote on overhaul of road transport rules in July

Crimea, a wicked game of political chess and a ‘big’ coincidence

So, what is your favourite Sustainable Development Goal?

Q&A on the 19th China-EU Summit to be held on 01-02 June 2017 in Brussels

Hollande decisively rebuffs Merkel’s and Rehn’s austerity policies

EU and Japan agree on free-trade deal and fill the post-TPP void

Why medicine is relevant to the battle against climate change

Climate change update: will the UN member states regain momentum despite the little progress at COP23?

Global health challenges require global medical students

WEF Davos 2016 LIVE: “If we do not do properly the Paris agreement, then all 16 remaining goals will be undermined”, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon cautions from Davos

Youth employment crisis easing but far from over

“A divided Europe is not in China’s interests”, Ambassador Zhang of the Chinese Mission to EU welcomes Brussels

The Changing Scope of International Economic Relations – Chinese Leadership in the 21st Century

ZTE @ MWC14: ZTE excels in all areas at this year’s Mobile World Congress

The gender gap of medicine in 2018

The IMF overstates the risks for Eurozone and downgrades the threats for the US economy

Conflicting statistics and bad banks haunt the Eurozone

Utmost hypocrisy emitted by EU’s energy regulation

How secure is blockchain?

Juncker Investment Plan for Europe welcomed by European Youth Forum

Eurasian Union begins: the giant modelled on the EU is Moscow’s biggest challenge

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s