Climate change and health – can medical students be the solution?

drought 2019

(Unsplash, 2019)

This article was exclusively written for the The European Sting by Mr. Alexander Brezina, a German medical student who spent a year in the US before coming  to study in Brussels at Catholic University of Louvain, to combine medicine and French. He is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. 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.


I once went to a conference on climate change and health where they said that in the past, doctors would complain: “We are already busy enough with the health of our patients, we cannot talk about the climate, too.” Today’s medical students, however, are willing to talk about it, seeing the scope of the problems at hand: According to recent estimates, there will be around 250 000 deaths per year caused by climate change between 2030 and 2050.

The link to medicine might not come to mind spontaneously when talking about climate change, but there a numerous connections worth considering: A warmer climate can lead to more cases of infectious diseases, as their vector animals( for example the Anopheles mosquito transmitting malaria) can now conquer land that was previously too cold for them. As weather extremes become more frequent,such as heatwaves, additional death due to heat stress will ensue. In addition to that, according to the WHO, climate change will have an effect on the so called social and environmental determinants of health, e.g. safe drinking water and sufficient food.

Unfortunately, some people might be skeptical about Global Warming or just not feel concerned about it at all, perceiving it as something too abstract. However,people’s own health is something more personal. As doctors of the future, we can bridge the gap: If awareness is raised about the negative effect of coal power plants on respiratory health, this might lead  to less coal energy.The result for the climate is the same, no matter the origin of our concern.

As medical students, we are in an ideal position for this job. We chose our future profession to care for others, to educate them about the health problems they are facing. We will be there to listen to their problems, fears, misunderstandings. As the doctors of the future, people will vest us with their trust, so it is our duty to speak about climate change when it endangers their health. For our actions to be effective, we should take them better sooner than later because later, once we are well-established doctors, might be too late. Given our young age, we will most likely live to see those times that are being referred to in climate change scenarios. For us, 2050 is not just a number but a real prospect, one more reason to get involved.

We will be living in the world of tomorrow and we have received the education needed to understand, at least partially, some of the challenges of the future. In addition to that, IFMSA offers us the opportunity to experience firsthand what a role we can play. Just this May, IFMSA was present at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change talks.

We cannot claim to be the whole solution to the problem. NGOs, civil society, lawmakers all have their parts to play. We can however work with them for a better future while always keeping in mind:

The future is now.

About the author

Mr. Alexander Brezina is a German national  who spent a year in the US before coming  to study in Brussels at Catholic University of Louvain, to combine medicine and French. He then continued his passion for multiculturalism with two Erasmus exchanges, one to the Universitat Internacional de Catalunya in Barcelona, where he first came into contact with IFMSA and wanted to establish it at his university. He did another Erasmus exchange to the Universidade do Porto, in Porto, Portugal. In his spare time, he likes indoor climbing and learning more languages, and of course, IFMSA.

 

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Commission presents far-reaching anti-tax evasion measures

UN chief urges peaceful, free and fair elections in Cameroon

IMF’s Lagarde indirectly cautioned Eurozone on deflation

Will Eurozone be able to repay its debts? Is a bubble forming there?

EU-US Trade: European Commission endorses rebalancing duties on US products

New UN report on families in a changing world puts ‘women’s rights at their core’

Further reforms will promote a more inclusive and resilient Indonesian economy

Israel @ MWC14: Israel The Start App Nation

Brexit may finally not really happen; The Brits have second thoughts

Flying high: how India could lead the world in drones

These are the places with the most climate change deniers

Opponents of constitutional change in Burundi face torture and execution: UN investigators

How water scarcity triggers the refugee crisis – and what tech can do to solve it

G20 told crucial COP24 climate change conference ‘must succeed’: Guterres

Yemen ceasefire deal: ‘Potential’ now to restore humanitarian lifeline to millions

Superbugs: MEPs advocate further measures to curb use of antimicrobials

What you need to know about the Sustainable Development Impact Summit

China and UK relations post Brexit as EU addresses Chinese takeovers

How robotics can help humanitarians bridge the digital divide

The Commission unsuccessfully pretends to want curbing of tax evasion

Climate change and its adverse impacts on health

The Social Committee may accept the new ‘contractual’ Eurozone

Tunisia wants to change inheritance rules to boost gender equality

Ukrainian civil war: Is this the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning?

In an era of global uncertainty, the SDGs can be our guide

“We always honor our words, and in that respect we expect our partners to honor their words as well”, China’s State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi highlights live from Brussels

5 world-changing ideas: our top picks for World Creativity and Innovation Day

Afghanistan: UN condemns blasts that leave 8 dead at cricket stadium

UK voters sent strong message to May and Corbyn for soft Brexit

5 reasons to protect mangrove forests for the future

Why a multi-stakeholder approach is essential to our risk resiliency

Storms and snow in Lebanon worsen plight for Syrian refugees

Voices of young climate action activists ‘give me hope’ says UN chief

Lagarde’s metamorphoses, not a laughing matter

Tuesday’s Daily Brief: hate speech, dementia, Libya and Yemen, human rights in Brazil and Lebanon

Wednesday’s Daily Brief: Diplomacy for Peace Day, #VaccinesWork, the cost of war on Afghans, tech and well-being

Silicon Valley can do more to achieve the #GlobalGoals

EU Summit consumed by the banks

These are the United States’ most exported products

Is a deal over EU budget possible today?

New OECD work to support citizen engagement with governments

“TTIP can boost the European project”; the Sting reports live from EBS 2015 on TTIP

The EU’s trading partners: US, China and the rest

London, Berlin, Paris to fight over EU budget

Mali: Presidential elections critical to consolidate democracy, says UN peacekeeping chief

It’s not summer holidays what lead to the bad August of the German economy

ECB readies itself for extraordinary monetary measures defying Germany

The challenge to be a good healthcare professional

We’ll succeed together

Is the West gradually losing Africa?

Thought AIs could never replace human imagination? Think again

The Commission tries to stop the ‘party’ with the structural funds

Building social good – lessons from an Asian giant

Deal on faster exchange of non-EU nationals’ criminal records

“InvestEU”: MEPs support new programme to boost financing for jobs and growth

Alexandre in Czech Republic

EU unfolds strategy on the Egypt question

New chapters in EU-China trade disputes

What the Women’s World Cup can teach us about capitalism

Zuckerberg preaches that Artificial Intelligence will protect Data Privacy in Facebook whereas Verhofstadt demands the big European state to take charge

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