ACP calls upon physicians to combat health problems associated with climate change
The changing climate is one of the most important environmental concerns today. Climate change directly affects five components of the environment: water, air, weather, oceans, and ecosystems And, through changes in the environment such as heat waves, droughts, storms, worsening air quality, floods etc. it also adversely affects human health.
With rise in temperatures, vector-borne diseases such as dengue are increasing in number making them more difficult and challenging to control. What is more, climate change may potentially spread the disease to areas that are currently not endemic for the disease.
The relationship between climate and human health has for long been a much studied topic. A report published in April 2010 by National Institute of Environmental Health Science, USA “A Human Health Perspective on Climate Change a Report Outlining the Research Needs on the Human Health Effects of Climate Change” categorized health consequences of climate change into:
· Asthma, respiratory allergies, and airway diseases
· Cardiovascular disease and Stroke
· Foodborne diseases and nutrition
· Heat-related morbidity and mortality
· Human developmental effects
· Mental health and stress-related disorders
· Neurological diseases and disorders
· Vectorborne and zoonotic diseases
· Waterborne diseases
· Weather-related morbidity and mortality
In a position paper published online April 19 in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the American College of Physicians (ACP) has focused on the consequences of climate change on human health including more respiratory and heat-related illness, vector-borne diseases, waterborne diseases, food and water insecurity, malnutrition, behavioral health problems.
ACP has called for urgent "aggressive, concerted" action to fight climate change to counter the “devastating” health consequences.
The position paper emphasizes the crucial role that physicians can play in tackling them by educating themselves, their patients, community, policy makers about the adverse health effects of climate change and also support efforts to alleviate them. The ACP also recommends that medical schools and continuing medical education (CME) providers include climate change-related coursework in their syllabus.