So long are the days when medical care was limited to addressing broken legs and fevers. Now, climate change is also a medical matter. Health professionals can no longer avoid discussion about this broad-based social topic. They are witnessing how climate change is increasingly impacting patient health, from rising rates of asthma and allergens to vector-borne diseases, to the impacts of droughts and heat waves.
What role can physicians play in climate education and care? Climate for Health recognizes that health experts are at the nexus between health care and environmental pollution. Physicians may consider using their unique role to advocate for policy change by presenting climate change as a health issue. This approach may resonate with more policymakers. Physicians can also implement green practices in their medical institutions, by encouraging sustainable foods, recycling and switching to renewables. There are also other ways that physicians can learn how to best incorporate climate action into their work. ecoAmerica's report, Connecting on Climate, offers language for health professionals to effectively communicate about climate change.
"As this public health risk increases from climate change, physicians will find themselves on the front lines of patient care for those that are affected by it. As such, there is a growing role for physicians to play in and out of the exam room," as GreenBiz writes below.
By David Wigder I March 25, 2016
In today’s polarized society, Americans trust few sources for information on climate change. One trusted source is physicians.
In fact, according to a joint study (PDF) conducted by the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication, primary care physicians are the most trusted source for information on climate change issues related to health.
Moreover, this trust is largely consistent across all consumer segments regardless of current beliefs and attitudes toward climate change. This puts physicians in a unique position in society today to influence such sentiments.
Climate change is already having an impact on human health through extreme heat and weather events. It is also exacerbating pre-existing conditions such as asthma and allergies. This is especially true on days when conditions such as high ozone levels or pollen counts make symptoms worse.
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