Climate change: ‘Climate change to be included in the study of medicine’

The largest ever survey on climate change involving more than 3000 professionals associated with the health sector in India has shown that the health sector of the country has to take steps to defend and fight against climate change in India. An important role should be played.

The findings of this first of its kind survey in India were discussed in a webinar conducted by Climate Trends, Healthy Energy Initiative and Health Care Without Harm on Friday.

Presenting the survey report, Shweta Narayan, representative of Health Energy Initiative India, said that the survey clearly shows that the rate of awareness of climate change is 93 percent among all classes of health workers. 72.9% of respondents surveyed believed the relationship between climate change and infectious diseases outbreaks to be correct. More than 85 percent of the respondents in the survey believe that the health sector should take the responsibility of tackling climate change and reducing its own carbon footprint. The health workers expressed keen interest to participate in the task of tackling climate change in future.

The survey was conducted between August 2020 to December 2020. It included 3062 health professionals including doctors, nurses, paramedical staff, hospital administrators, ASHA workers, NGO health staff and students in health services. These health professionals belong to six states representing different parts of the country. These include Uttar Pradesh (Northern Region), Bihar (Eastern Region), Meghalaya (North Eastern Region), Chhattisgarh (Central Region), Maharashtra (Western Region) and Karnataka (Southern Region).

Seven groups of health workers were interviewed during the survey. Among them, the doctors’ community was found to be the most aware of climate change (97.5 percent). This is followed by medical students (94.8 percent), hospital administration staff (94.3 percent), ASHA workers (92.5 percent). Nurses ranked last, with the lowest (89.6 percent) awareness of climate change, its causes, effects, and human health. It is obvious that ASHA workers play an important role in bringing various government health schemes to the end, so they are more aware of the schemes. This is why they are more aware than nurses about the effects of climate pollution on health.

Professor Dr Arvind Kumar, Founder Trustee of Lung Care Foundation, said: “The findings of this study clearly indicate that leading professionals in the health sector want the sector to further address climate change action and advocacy.” Come and play a central role. India’s health sector can play a significant role in reducing the impact of climate change by adopting pollution free technology to reduce emissions of various greenhouse gases and reduce power consumption by using renewable energy. ”

He said, “Discussion in the health fraternity about climate change and air pollution is slowly gaining momentum.” You cannot change a person’s behavior unless you tell him about the danger arising when that change does not occur. We have made air pollution a health issue. Climate change is really a big issue but it was not given as much attention as it should have been. ”

Referring to the natural disaster that occurred last Sunday in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand, he said that “the incident in Uttarakhand is particularly related to climate change.” Such incidents will continue to happen in the coming years as we have not taken any lessons from such incidents in the past. “

Professor Kumar said, “While being a part of this study, I came to know that there is more awareness in the health fraternity, but if we go deeper and ask people if they really know about the intensity of climate change, then I don’t think That you will get the right answer, but I believe this is a serious issue and we health workers will have to come forward and work. ”

He said, “We, health professionals, have to work at the forefront of the action plan. The biggest task is to convey information to the people and change the behavior of the people. An equally challenging task is to bring those policy changes to the ground. I believe that we all have to take some time out of our precious time and also get involved in the policy making process. ”

During the survey, more than 81 percent of the respondents believed that deforestation, burning of fossil fuels, generation of garbage, release of polluting elements from industrial units and increasing population are the main reasons for the emission of greenhouse gases. Rapid climate change is taking place. The level of awareness among health professionals about climate change suggests that they have a much better understanding of the causes of climate change than is evident in most earlier studies. About 74% of the respondents also believe that the public health community is now facing increasing burden of climate sensitive diseases. It is having direct and indirect effects on both health professionals and health infrastructure. This is the first study of its kind, which seeks to understand the information, thinking, attitude and activities of people associated with the health sector regarding climate change. The study was conducted by Healthy Energy Initiative in collaboration with data agency Morsal India.

The survey was conducted in the latter part of 2020, when the country and the world were battling the Covid-19 epidemic. From this survey, it is evident that majority of the respondents are people who do not believe that enough arrangements were made to deal with the epidemic. Even they do not believe that at the same time the country’s health infrastructure is ready for such future epidemics. On the question asked about the priorities of the compensation plan caused by the

ovid-19 epidemic, 83.4 percent of the respondents indicated that the compensation plan should focus on activities that promote the health of the common citizens. At the same time 82.8 percent of the respondents said that it is important to strictly implement activities focused on the protection and protection of the environment.

Purva Prabha Patil, president of the Medical Students Association of India, said “The findings of the survey clearly show that health professionals and the medical sector are now more inclined to believe that they need to combat climate change and protect communities.” To be included in the survey. The survey also revealed the flaws that have settled in our knowledge as a community and we are now determined to address them. “

He said, “This study not only explores the knowledge of health professionals about climate change but also reminds us of our duty to diagnose this problem.” About 86.7 percent of health professionals believe they should be involved in the formulation of climate change related policies. This is a very large number. There is also a very interesting fact that a large number of respondents agree on the inclusion of this issue in the medical curriculum. What we are reading about climate change and health is very little compared to the current situation. Upgrading the existing curriculum is very important. “

Air pollution is often considered a problem related to Delhi, but it is interesting to see that this survey clearly shows that the health effects of poisonous air are known and understood by health workers across the country. 88.7% of the respondents surveyed believe that air pollution related diseases will directly affect the health sector. He sees it as the biggest danger of heat and cold related diseases, communicable and water borne diseases, infectious diseases, mental diseases and malnutrition. 68.9% of health workers believe that climate change has a direct impact on the health sector. At the same time, 74% of the respondents believe that the burden of climate related diseases is increasing on the population.

While on one hand it has been found in the survey that there is a lot of awareness among health workers about the issue of climate change. At the same time, the number of those who raise the issue of climate change and its effects among the public is not much. Respondents believed that more work still needed to be done to make the health-related climate resilient and that health professionals should be equipped with sufficient information to raise public awareness of climate change. 72.8% of the people surveyed agreed that climate change and its effects on health were included in the medical curriculum in India.

Dr Purnima Prabhakaran, deputy director of the Center for Environmental Health at the Public Health Foundation of India, said, “Climate change is an issue related to health and the survey has shown that methods to reduce and adapt to climate change and reduce risk This is a great opportunity to bring health professionals together to move on the path of adoption and adoption of climate resilience. The government should implement early warning systems so that people are exposed to extreme climates arising due to climate change. To get information about conditions and diseases in advance. Also help in providing more strong inter-departmental coordination, adequate labor force and adequate supply of medicines, and flexible health related fundamentals to combat the effects of climate change. Structure can be accelerated. “

He said that this study has been done at a time when the field of health is in a central role. The relationship between the Covid-19 pandemic and climate change pandemic is shown much better in this study. It is good to see that health professionals have awareness about climate change to this extent. Earlier tobacco was considered to be the cause of lung cancer, but now due to climate change and pollution, it is also getting cancer. Obviously, the medical curriculum needs to be changed according to the time.

This study recommends effective building capacity of health professionals. Along with this, the need has also been given to provide information from various paths, in which health could be adversely affected due to climate change. It also recommends that climate change and its effects on health should be included as a subject in the curriculum of all health professionals. Health professionals should be made aware and trained on international agreements in the form of climate treaties, particularly the Paris Agreement. At the same time, health workers should be provided with easy information about state level and national action plans made for climate change and human health.

Dr. Maria Neera, director of the Department of Public Health at the World Health Organization, said in the webinar, “No day goes by when media reports of health damage caused by air pollution are not visible. In the year 2018, 87 lakh people died The smoke generated due to the burning of fossil fuels was caused. If we implement the Paris Agreement then only we can make life safe. Communities will have to raise their voices about climate change. We are looking at The question of the widespread damage caused by climate change and air pollution will be very important in COP 26, to be held months later. A very big message is that 7 million untimely deaths are linked to climate change and air pollution.

He said, “We are talking of saving lives. We have to make it clear in front of the policy makers that if you implement this policy of this agreement to this extent only then you will be able to save so much life. This can clearly indicate the responsibility on the shoulder. If we manage to convey that it is necessary for your life and for the safety of your future generations. Very strong policies have to be made to deal with climate change. The health fraternity needs to be made very strong. Everyone associated with the health community should improve their understanding on this issue. “

Chest surgery nurse at the Institute of Chest Surgery Neha Tiwari said “Being a healthcare professional it is my moral responsibility to deliver curative healthcare in a holistic manner. As far as climate change is concerned, it means that we have access to it.” Scientific information has to be converted into works so that public health can be conserved. Health sector should also be included in the formulation of local health and environmental policies to be made in order to reduce and sustain climate change. Policies can be formulated in an appropriate manner to protect public health.

He said, “I have seen a 28 year old girl with lung cancer, that too because of pollution.” I believe that air pollution and climate change are leading to catastrophic consequences. It must be stopped, or else the future will be bleak. Now health workers will have to come forward and work. In the past too, it has been seen many times that only people from health-related areas have taken the lead in health related matters. I believe we have to work on three fronts. First, we have to handle ourselves, second is advocacy and third is to influence policies. It is important that we start with our home first.

Aarti Khosla, director of Climate Trends, which is conducting the webinar, said that the survey has not only explored the information of health professionals regarding the issue of climate change but also pointed to the increased scale of their duties in future. This will also send a message to the policy makers that without taking the health fraternity together in the campaign to combat climate change.

About Healthy Energy Initiative:
Healthy Energy Initiative is an initiative led by Health Care Without Harm. It is a network of professionals from health sector, health organizations and research institutes worldwide. The responsibility of combining the Healthy Energy Initiative in India is on Community Environmental Monitoring (CEM), a program of Other Media. Chennai-based CEM aims to address the problem of communities affected by pollution through health monitoring, capacity training, information and support and emergency services and funding.

About the study:
The survey was conducted between August 2020 to December 2020. It included 3062 health professionals including doctors, nurses, paramedical staff, hospital administrators, ASHA workers, NGO health staff and students in health services. These health professionals belong to six states representing different parts of the country. These include Uttar Pradesh (Northern Region), Bihar (Eastern Region), Meghalaya (North Eastern Region), Chhattisgarh (Central Region), Maharashtra (Western Region) and Karnataka (Southern Region). Morsel India did the job of presenting the questionnaire to the people included in its scope for the survey. The main objective of this survey was to understand how the medical and health fraternity in India views climate change and how it combines with their potential solutions and mitigation plans.