Medical Students Training To Recognize Effects of Climate Change

Climate change presents a public health threat. Approximately 24 medical schools are training health care practitioners seeing patients with illnesses and conditions related to climate change. Unfortunately. many schools training doctors, nurses and other medical professions cannot devote enough time as their curriculums are already full. Some schools don’t have a climate change course per say, but they include issues related to climate change in their existing classes. For example, the University of California, San Francisco is teaching asthma treatment with an emphasis on pollution exposure from from forest fires.

Certain conditions are aggravated by the effects of climate change. Higher temperatures increase the population of ticks and mosquitoes, making vector-borne illnesses, such as malaria, the mosquito-spread Zika virus and Lyme disease, more prevalent. The American Lung Association says smog may trigger an asthma attack. Seven million people die each year according to the World Health Organization from air pollution. Climate change statistics are also having an impact on people’s mental health.

In an effort to help medical schools fit in more classes, Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health formed the Global Consortium on Climate and Health Education in 2017. The consortium focuses on how to train healthcare professionals and sharing teaching materials regarding climate change’s impact on clinical care.

The American Medical Association says man-made global climate change impact public health, especially among the most vulnerable individuals, such the children and the elderly. Physicians can do something by taking the lead to fight climate change. The public trusts doctors and nurses far more than they trust politicians.

Climate change-related health problems, such as flooding and extreme heat, could kill 250,000 people between 2030 and 2050. Unfortunately, healthcare equipment, such as CAT scanners and dialysis machines, use huge amounts of energy. In an ironic twist, healthcare accounts for 10 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States.

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