Climate change is an emergency for public health, medical groups warn

Last week, a total of 74 medical and public health groups labeled climate change as a public health emergency that threatens the well-being of millions of Americans and issued an open invite for action against climate change.

The signatories are a united front of healthcare practitioners, hospital services, healthcare systems, health-care institutes as well as community-based health agencies and organisations. The American Heart Association and the American Lung Association are among them.

Boris Lushniak, MD, dean of the Public Health School in Maryland University and former acting US general surgeon,  and added, “This would’ve been achieved a long way ago but now it’s better than later.”

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The US demands for Action on Climate Health and Equity, which consists of a list of 10 political priorities, calls on elected officials as well as leaders of civil society to “identify climate change as an emergency health as well as to work across government agencies and community & business communities in prioritizing actions on this Agenda for Climate, Health as well as Equity Policy.

The policy focuses on modifications that will advance health goals as well as climate alternatives. These include the transition from coal, oil and natural gas to renewable energy; emphasizing active transport such as walking and cycling; and encouraging sustainable food systems and water supplies.

The organisations also call on the healthcare industry to go green by embracing climate-smart methods in all installations, creating “low-carbon healthcare delivery models,” such as telemedicine and redesigning all curricula to “guide the charge in climate change mitigation and adaptation” to prepare the healthcare workforce.

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Climate change’s health impacts have been well documented. According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, they include “enhanced respiratory and cardiovascular disease, accidents and premature fatalities associated with extreme weather events, changes in the incidence and geographic distribution of food and waterborne diseases and other infectious diseases, and mental health threats.” Particularly at danger are vulnerable populations, including kids, elderly people and those with inadequate funds.

Nearly everything good for the planet’s health is really good for the individual,” Lushniak said, “and our function is to mix these two together.”

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