Universities, do a better job of educating healthcare professionals on this critical health issue – Croakey Health Media

Introduction by Croakey: Academic institutions around the world will be urged to place greater emphasis on climate change in the education of health professionals during a global event occurred on Thursday, June 9.

The WHO-Civil Society Working Group to Advance Action on Climate Change and Health is calling on academic institutions to integrate climate change into curricula, and will be co-hosting an official launch of this call with the Consortium world on climate and health education.

Speakers at the online event include: Dr. Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum, Head of the World Health Organization’s Climate Unit; Dr Jeni Miller, Executive Director, Global Climate and Health Alliance; Associate Professor Ying Zhang, Chair, Subcommittee on Capacity Building, WHO-Civil Society Working Group on Climate and Health; Dr. Cecilia Sorensen, Director, Global Consortium on Climate and Health Education at Columbia University; and Lynne Madden, Professor of Population and Planetary Health, University of Notre Dame Australia.

Also speaking will be representatives of the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations and the International Federation of Pharmacy Students. Register here participate in the discussions on June 9 (2 p.m.-3 p.m. Geneva, 10 p.m.-11 p.m. Sydney, 8 a.m.-9 a.m. New York).

Meanwhile, Isabel Waters, a fourth-year medical student in Ireland who was involved in the Planetary Health Bulletinexplains in the article below how students contribute to the evolution of the programs.

The report card assesses more than 60 medical schools in five countries for their planetary health teaching, and Waters encourages Australians to join the initiative.


Isabelle Waters writes:

“You cannot understand the true power of medicine (in any capacity) unless you understand the nature of things”: Dr. Nicole Redvers writes in an article titled, “The science of the sacred: bridging global systems of indigenous medicine and modern scientific principles”.

Human health is intrinsically linked to the well-being of the planet. All medical advances depend on the environment surrounding a patient and how they interact with that environment.

Consider the example of a young woman presenting to the emergency room with an acute exacerbation of her asthma, who is prescribed a new inhaler to better control her chronic asthma and an oral steroid to treat the exacerbation. This woman is then sent back to resume life in an environment where the exposure of the population to particles less than 2.5 cm in diameter (PM2.5) exceeds the 95th percentile of historical daily mean valuesas is the case in parts of Australia.

Between October 2019 and February 2020 bushfire smoke was responsible for 113 emergency room visits due to asthma in Queensland, 702 in New South Wales, 89 in the Australian Capital Territory and 401 in Victoria . Bushfire smoke has also been attributed to a significant number of excess deaths in these areas.

Now imagine that this woman comes from a low-income household prone to flooding, which puts her at risk of waterborne disease, displacement, and depression. When vulnerability to drought and dependence on water resources for food security are taken into account, this paints an even more disturbing picture.

This profound relationship between climate change and human health has been recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO), which attributes almost a quarter of deaths and the global burden of disease to environmental degradation. Healthcare professionals are at the center of this crisis.

Yet the majority have not had specific training dedicated to recognizing and addressing the health effects of climate change.

Medical student Isabel Waters

Student driven

The Planetary Health Bulletin (PHRC) is a student-led initiative that aims to bring together evidence from health professional schools through five distinct measures: 1) Curriculum, 2) Interdisciplinary Research in Health and Environment, 3) Outreach and Community Advocacy, 4) Student Support Initiatives and 5) Campus Sustainability.

On Earth Day 2022, the PHRC published the report cards of 74 medical schools from seven countries (USA, UK, Canada, Ireland, Germany, Japan, Malaysia).

As we come to the end of the PHRC’s third cycle, the synthesis report highlights examples of where it has inspired institutional change, as well as recommendations based on current best relevant examples from different schools around the world. In this way, the PHRC not only serves as a source of data on planetary health education, but also facilitates inter-institutional sharing of these resources to catalyze innovation in the planetary health movement.

The 2021-2022 cycle saw the PHRC expand to Germany and Japan. Bulletins in South Africa and New Zealand are in preparation for next year. In addition to reaching more nations, the PHRC has also seen exciting developments in other directions.

The initiative has been extended to the pharmaceutical and nursing professions, with a pharmacy pilot report also released on Earth Day. We are also aiming to release a nursing pilot, alongside the medical school pilot currently underway in India.

In addition to the expansion, the newsletter itself has evolved based on feedback to better reflect current knowledge and areas of development. For example, a new question on the importance of Indigenous knowledge in global health solutions was added this year. This supports calling the Lancet Planetary Health Commission that socially dominant westernized groups be trained by indigenous groups in the protection of the environment and health – 80% of the world’s biodiversity is currently managed by indigenous groups!

Additionally, sustainability in healthcare has been given more prominence, with new measures included on the topic and a new recommendation added that specifically focuses on the inclusion of sustainable healthcare in education and training. practice. This recognizes that health care is part of the problem, contributing around five percent of the global carbon footprint.

To add to its impact, the PHRC has recently been recognized by international journals as a valuable tool, with a new publication in Planetary Health Lancet describing its design, development and evolution. This is in addition to a BMJ part published in January. The management team also published a literature reviewoutlining the evidence behind each of the report card measures to help students advocate for change when communicating with their faculty.

The PHRC is in the process of recruiting new teams for next year’s cycle which will begin at the end of the summer. If you are a student health professional with a passion for planetary health or environmental justice, do not hesitate to contact us as we would like to expand the initiative to Australia.

Please visit https://phreportcard.org for more information on contacting us and to see our published results for the past three years.

As health professionals, we have a crucial role to play in the global health movement. It is our duty to educate our patients about environmental risks and how to minimize their risks, treat illnesses attributable to climate change and promote sustainable healthcare.

However, how can we expect doctors and allied health professionals to do this without proper training in medical school?

The Planetary Health Bulletin highlights this gap in education globally and provides concrete solutions with proven success to inspire change.

• Isabel Waters is a 4th year medical student at Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland and currently the Irish Regional Manager of the Planetary Health Report Card. She is passionate about planetary health, environmental justice and health equity. She became involved with the PHRC during the 2020-2021 cycle, the second year it was taking place at her medical school. She is very happy to be co-director of the PHRC next year.

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