Is Climate Change the Next Worldwide Health Emergency?

Is Climate Change the Next Worldwide Health Emergency?

There is increasing evidence to support that climate change is affecting human health and wellbeing everywhere. Recent data from the Air Quality Life Index (AQLI) cites air pollution as the cause for a two-year reduction in global life expectancy.

As we reflect on how health communities have come together during a time of national crisis, health leaders are starting to ask if there a way to harness that same energy into tackling climate change, as the next big health issue.

Whilst health professionals have had a clear role to play in tackling the pandemic, it is more difficult to see how that same energy can make a real impact on climate change. There is also some way to go to change perceptions that climate change is a health crisis in a similar vein to COVID-19.

An article published in Integrated Care Journal emphasises the importance of the NHS and its role in tackling this health emergency. To help put it into context, did you know that the total carbon dioxide emissions attributable to the NHS in England is greater than the annual emissions from all aircraft departing from Heathrow?

Key takeaways:

  • In January 2020 an expert panel was launched “For a Greener NHS” with the objective to figure out how and when the NHS should reach net-zero.
  • NHS England have set a goal to reach net-zero carbon emissions ahead of 2050.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that, between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 250,000 additional deaths per year.
  • In terms of what health professionals can do about climate change, the WHO has a clear answer: advocate for health to be at the centre of all climate-change policies and plans.
  • The mistake that many make when talking about climate change is to consider it to be a future problem

Read the full article here with comments from Dr Nick Watts, Executive Director at The Lancet Countdown and Chair of the NHS Expert Panel, For a Greener NHS.

Find out more about the For a Greener NHS initiative here.

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