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April 20 2019

A Call for Clinicians to Act on Planetary Health

By Rebecca Rehr

The Lancet, one of the oldest and most prestigious medical journals, published “A Call for Clinicians to Act on Planetary Health” on April 19, 2019, just ahead of Earth Day on April 22. This global call-to-action, led by the Planetary Health Alliance and co-signed by 31 medical associations and healthcare organizations around the world, reflects a broad and unprecedented commitment of the healthcare community to planetary health. It aims to increase awareness of the severe public health impacts of global environmental change and to mobilize clinical communities to get engaged through joining the Clinicians for Planetary Health initiative. This call-to-action builds off of a related declaration distributed last month by the World Organization of Family Doctors (WONCA) through its networks of over 500,000 family doctors, discussing the health impacts of human-caused environmental change and various channels of action.

Our everyday decisions accumulate – what we eat, how we travel, how we source our energy, what we buy, how we exert our political power, how we engage in our communities, and how we serve as stewards of our environment. Clinicians can make a tremendous difference through encouraging individual- and community-level action focused on lifestyle modifications and forward-thinking policy, innovation, and adaptation measures that improve patients’ health while mitigating global environmental change and its impacts on current and future populations.

As a signatory and contributor to the call-to-action, Climate for Health applauds the Planetary Health Alliance for this effort. Planetary health is a field focused on characterizing the human health impacts of human-caused disruptions of Earth’s natural systems, including climate change. Through ecoAmeria’s research, we know 64% of Americans trust health professionals for information and 62% of Americans trust health professionals for guidance on climate change. Interestingly, only 19% of Americans report recently hearing about climate change from health professionals. These results show that health professionals are uniquely situated to be effective climate messengers, and help move the needle on an issue that is harming a majority of Americans. We are working with the Planetary Health Alliance and their Clinicians for Planetary Health initiative among our health partners to help motivate and activate health professionals across the county to act on climate because we know climate changes health.

If you’re interested in engaging more on these kinds of breakthrough initiatives, come to the American Climate Leadership Summit, May 1-2, 2019 in Washington, DC. We thank the Planetary Health Alliance for being an endorser of the Summit, and we are able to offer a special 30% off the registration price if you’re reading this piece. Use the code ACLS19_30OFF during check out. Hope to see you there!

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