Climate change and health: a much needed multidisciplinary approach

(European Climate Adaptation Platform, 2017)

This article was exclusively written for the Sting by Ms. Rana Hatem Moshref, a 6th year medical student in King Abdulaziz University, Saudi Arabia. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA). However, the opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

When reading the topic I didn’t understand it quite well. How medical students and climate work together, is it possible? Well, yes, medical students can be part of the solution.

According to WHO, climate change affects the social and environmental determinants of health, and between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 250.000 additional deaths per year, from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhoea and heat stress. There are four determinants of health- clean air, safe drinking water, sufficient food and secure shelter.

As for clean air, there is nothing we can do for extreme heat, pollen, but medical students can be recruited to work part-time in primary clinics to provide medical services especially those having respiratory or cardiovascular diseases. Another solution, medical ambulances or medical stops can be placed in each block with a medical student and first aid kit with additional supplies; like, atrovine, ventolin, epinephrine, and a hot line that can be connected to emergency department. People may be forced to move, which in turn heightens the risk of a range of health effects, from mental disorders to communicable diseases, thus annual or bimonthly field surveys are needed to see what are the people’s need .i.e. additional clinics, drugs.. etc.  Also, students can educate people to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases through using energy power cars, quitting smoking.

Regarding safe drinking water, increasingly variable rainfall patterns are likely to affect the supply of fresh water. WHO states that lack of safe water can compromise hygiene and increase the risk of diarrhoeal disease, which kills over 500.000 children aged under 5 years, every year. One of the solutions is to make a device that separates air molecules and turn it to water and provide it to countries that are in dough, or to make more water reserve, or
desalination plants. In addition, rainfalls and floods would increase communicable diseases and this can be reduced by educating people about communicable diseases by social media and field campaigns, reaching out to influencing rich people to buy more drugs, knits and vaccines.

Furthermore, rising temperatures and variable precipitation are likely to decrease the production of staple foods in many of the poorest regions which currently cause 3.1 million deaths every year. One of the answers is to plant more reserves in poor regions and to send more food supplies.

In the end, multidisciplinary approach will be needed in climate change, so we need all of the help we can get.

About the author
Rana Hatem Moshref is a 6th year medical student in King Abdulaziz University in Saudi Arabia. She is a health advocate and cares about women and children health. She is a researcher and an author. She works hard to apply new ideas that change her society into a better one. She is keen to read new technologies and advances in the field of medicine and surgery to be a good physician in the future and to serve patients the highest quality of care. She also wants to overcome poverty and spread education. Her hobbies are writing, reading, travelling, exploring cultures and an adventure seeker.

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