Health sector will be the biggest hit of climate change, have to be prepared: Experts

A first of its kind document designed to prepare health workers for various discussions on climate change and its effects on health

Healthy Energy Initiative India in collaboration with other health sector organizations has released a first of its kind guiding document. ‘ No Vaccine for Climate Change – A Communication Guide on Climate and Health for the Healthcare Professionals in India ‘ The purpose of this document, called this document, is to prepare healthcare workers to engage in various discussions about climate change and its impact on the health of patients and communities, and to respond to stakeholders such as the media , legislature and policymakers , and for a variety of communication purposes. have to complete.

The document was discussed extensively in a webinar organized by Climate Trends on Tuesday . In this webinar , Dr. Maria Neera , Director of Public Health Department of World Health Organization, Sanjay Vashisht , Director of Climate Action Network South Asia, Dr. Arvind Kumar , Founder Trustee of Lung Care Foundation, Dr. Ravi Kant Singh, Founder of Doctors for You and Medical Students Association of India. India’s vice president Dr. Molly Mehta and Chattisgarh, Kerala and Karnataka climate change and officers related to human health, respectively doctor Kamlesh Jain, Dr manu MS and doctor attended by Veena V.

Dr. Ravikant Singh, Founder, Doctors for You, said, “ The voice of a health worker is vital to promoting the steps needed to tackle climate change and its health impacts. Health workers can make a huge difference. They can make a huge difference by working with their patients , in their practice , in medical institutions, and most importantly, in their community and policymakers. Taking action to tackle climate change can help us make a difference in our lives. The best health opportunities arise , as many climate change solutions improve the health of communities and the general public, as well as reduce health inequalities. First of its kind guiding document ‘ No Vaccine for Climate Change – A Communication Guide on Climate and Health for the Healthcare Professionals in India ‘ It has been specially designed to provide information to health workers. We have a unique opportunity that we can convince people that it is pollution causing climate change because of the impact on respiratory health. Most importantly, this document advocates advancing carbon-free practices and infrastructure in the health sector. “

He said that there is no longer a need to clarify the relationship between water, air pollution and health. Actually we are living in hell created due to pollution. As frontline doctors, we are witnessing how deadly climate change is becoming in different parts of the country. Because of this, many inequalities are being created. Climate change is causing deaths. Most of the emergency cases are directly or indirectly related to pollution. In one sense, the positive effect of Kovid- 19 has been that people have started talking about strengthening the health sector.

Dr Ravikant suggested that climate change and its effects should be included in the medical science curriculum. At present no such subject is included in the medical curriculum. The second suggestion is that we have to strengthen our primary and secondary health centres. In high-risk areas, we have to improve basic health facilities. Looking at the situation, we have to create a big health infrastructure at the district level and at the primary and secondary level. In addition, the capacity of health facilities located in danger zones and the needs arising in them over time will have to be re-assessed. Health facilities in the low lying areas of our country are very poorly planned. The world is facing various health related challenges. Especially in front of India, the situation is getting dire. Because of this, we have to re-assess health services in view of the new situation. Now is not the time to just talk but the time to act. Now we have to think about the society and the country instead of ourselves.

This document is the result of the largest ever study on climate change knowledge levels , attitudes and practices of healthcare professionals in India . The findings of this study, released in February 2021 , indicate that while 93% of health workers and professionals are aware of the basics of climate change , only 55% of them are aware of climate change awareness or climate change related activities and activities. participate in programs. Based on the feedback given by these health professionals, some recommendations have been made in this study , which include effective capacity building of healthcare professionals and lawyers. The document also stresses the need to provide detailed information about the various pathways through which climate change can have adverse health effects. The document also recommends that climate change and its health impacts should be made part of the medical curriculum. Health professionals should be provided with information and training in an easy-to-understand manner about international climate-related exchanges , especially the Paris Agreement. Along with this, detailed information should also be given about state and national level action plans on climate change and human health.

Dr Maria Neira, Director of the Public Health Department of the World Health Organization, said, ” Health professionals are reliable communication carriers as well as important actors as far as safeguarding the health of the general public is concerned , but this characteristic full use can be made only when he 21st century’s greatest health challenge that climate change and to provide important information about ways to cope with it. ”

He said, “ Who will deny that today there is a great need to talk about a global threat like climate change. Health professionals have to come forward and set an example. Today our fight is about ensuring the availability of breathable air. We had never needed such a struggle before, but unfortunately today the situation has come to a standstill. I believe that if health professionals raise their voice and spread awareness in this direction, then its credibility will be much higher. It will also be an important contribution. At the same time, it will be far more inspiring for our society and policy makers. This will strengthen the voices advocating the need to adopt alternative sources of energy. We have to make sure that we become a big voice against the foolish acts of wasting nature , ecology and biodiversity. I think if health professionals come together to speak up, it will be a very effective tool that we can use in COP 26 . G- 7 meeting was held yesterday . After this many more important meetings are to be held , in such a situation all health professionals will have to be a very strong voice. No health professional should underestimate their responsibility and capability. We must show the world that our network is the strongest. Our success will also depend on this. ”

Dr Maria said that the purpose of this guiding document, titled No Vaccine for Climate Change, is to inform health workers about the various discussions on climate change and the effects of climate change on the health of their patients and communities. Have to prepare them.”

This guide document incorporates the various recommendations outlined in the study and provides a comprehensive overview of the health impacts that come from climate-related events such as extreme heatwaves , floods , droughts , cyclonic storms and air pollution. can. In addition, this document also elaborates on the preparedness required by health professionals for these effects. This document covers fundamental issues related to both physical and mental health impacts due to climate change. At the same time, this document also provides the necessary instructions for health professionals to play the role of effective leaders and communicators on this issue. This guiding document also suggests measures needed to deal with the potential health impacts due to climate change disasters. These are measures that health professionals can provide as advice to their patients , communities and policy makers. This document also gives suggestions regarding health systems.

Dr Arvind Kumar, Founder Trustee, Lung Care Foundation said, “ Climate change has become the biggest threat to human civilization of this century. As the world is recovering from the COVID- 19 pandemic , we are reminded once again that the health sector is the There is one sector that will have to play a leadership role in the campaign to heal the earth and secure its future. The health sector has to be at the forefront and central to action and advocacy against climate change. The Indian health sector has to play a key role in various greenhouse gases. Adoption of pollution-free technologies to reduce emissions and reduce grid electricity consumption by adopting renewable energy can make a significant contribution to mitigating the impacts of climate change. Healthcare providers have a significant impact on health due to climate change. There is also the opportunity to play the role of an effective communicator about the science behind impacts and its dangers.”

He said that pollution has made its place in big cities. The issue of pollution is that every person living in these cities smokes in the form of pollution. Even the child growing in the womb is no exception to this. There is clear evidence that the inhalation of polluted air in the form of breath by the mother also affects the unborn child. Generally we all think that the effect of air pollution only affects the lungs , but in reality it affects many organs including our heart , brain , kidneys , liver , pancreas , intestines , bladder and bones. The effect of air pollution on people living in big cities is much more.

Dr Kumar said , ” Clean air needs to be made a fundamental right. Although this work should have been done many years ago. It is because of carelessness that we are surrounded by the worst situation today. Our children will have to face the worst consequences of this. If we want to stop this, we have to work from now on. The only cause of pollution is the use of fossil fuels. We are all using fossil fuels in some form or the other, so if we want to save the future, then we have to adopt renewable energy. ”

Sanjay Vashisht, Director, Climate Action Network South Asia, said in the webinar, “ Health professionals can play a very important role. 59 percent of the world’s countries have included human health as a priority in their national commitments to climate adaptation. But they do not understand the climate-related risks to health. They don’t know how to deal with them. At the same time, they are also fighting to identify and finance comprehensive health adaptation initiatives. That’s why only 0 . Only 5% of multilateral climate finance covers health projects. ”

He said that the risk of communicable diseases and public-borne diseases has increased due to climate change. At the same time , there has been an increase in the threat to life and livelihood , which will also affect the nutritional aspect of the people. In addition, there is an increased risk of social inequalities. If we look at how climate change is affecting the health sector, the Events are coming at the expense of climate change.

Rising temperatures and rising sea levels are affecting the health sector and giving rise to disasters. These include landslides and forest fires. These have indirect effects on health, but they are not so indirect. Disasters have a direct impact on our society, which has a manifold effect on health.

Dr Vashisht said that climate change is the biggest health challenge of 21st century which has put our air, food, water, our shelter and security all at risk. These are the things on which human life depends. The lack of air quality, food and water, heat caused by climate change, floods, cyclones, forest fires, infectious diseases and mental health are ruining our lives. At the same time, it is also creating new challenges. There is no vaccine for climate change, but if work is started seriously on this issue, then we can open the door to great opportunities, because many solutions related to climate change improve the environment and public health of the community and health. related inequalities are reduced. Everyone benefits from air pollution reduction. It improves diet and we can save millions of people from death every year by promoting more active lifestyles.

Dr. Mouli Mehta said, “We have never taken climate change as seriously as it hurts us before, as a key to a better future for health professionals with an in-depth understanding of climate change and its health impacts. could. We have come to know how climate change is a very important topic for our health. It is our responsibility not only to understand climate change and its health impacts but also to work on future needs through it. This is the perfect time to work for change. When we were starting our careers as health professionals, the climate change aspect was not talked about so much, but it is very important to talk about it at this time. As the doctors of the future, we should start working on climate change and health. ”

Chhattisgarh Nodal Officer Dr Kamlesh Jain, while referring to the work being done in his state regarding climate change and its effects on health, said, “It is very important to clean the air. It is not related to any one country or state but a matter of global concern. There is a vaccine for corona but no vaccine for climate change. There are many health effects due to climate change. This is certainly a matter of concern. The Government of Chhattisgarh has taken some new initiatives to deal with this. We have adopted a multidimensional approach. Created awareness, strengthened the health system, worked on policy and advocacy aspects. We have an institutional arrangement. We are working closely with the Health Care Without Harm and Healthy Energy Initiative. We have trained the Panchayat members of the state about the interrelationship of climate change and health. In addition, Chhattisgarh has adopted an integrated policy and methodology to promote health sector sustainability in view of the effects of climate change.

Karnataka nodal officer Veena V. said that the state government has prepared a state level action plan on climate change and health in which a governing body has been constituted. Under this action plan, a road map has been prepared to strengthen the state level and district level infrastructure. This includes vulnerability need assessment, climate sustainable health facilities, greening of health units, preparation of training modules, training of trainers at district and state level, etc.

Kerala’s nodal officer Dr Manu M. s . Said in the webinar that the Kerala State Government has prepared several organizational structures in the field of climate change and health. Under these, cells related to environmental health have been constituted, state level governing councils and multi-sectoral task forces have also been constituted. Arrangements have been made to protect all the citizens of the state especially children, women, elderly, tribals and marginal population from the health related harm caused by climate change.

Health Departments of Chhattisgarh and Kerala, State Health Resource Center of Chhattisgarh, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education Research of Panjab University in preparation of the document ‘No Vaccine for Climate Change – A Communication Guide on Climate and Health for the Healthcare Professionals in India’ Chandigarh, Health Care Without Farms Lung Care Foundation Doctors for You Medical Students Association of India Climate Trends and experts from Azim Premji University also contributed.

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