Family doctors‘ role in promoting planetary health amidst climate crisis

Family doctors‘ role in promoting planetary health amidst climate crisis

The climate crisis continues to dominate headlines, highlighting the detrimental impact on our planet and its inhabitants.

Extreme heat waves cause mass fatalities in Mali and power cuts in Ecuador, highlighting the unhealthy state of our planet.

The scope of this emergency reaches beyond merely addressing climate concerns, as it encompasses matters related to pollution, biodiversity decline, modified biogeochemical cycles, and transformations in land utilization and vegetation.

In response to these challenges, planetary health – a new branch of medicine – has emerged, emphasizing the interconnectedness between human health and environmental sustainability.

Planetary Health

Family doctors recognize their role in addressing this complex issue by understanding its impact on their patients‘ health.

Climate change has far-reaching health implications, manifesting as poorer air quality, challenges to food security, heightened risks for infectious diseases, water shortages, and severe weather events.

Malnutrition is becoming increasingly common as climate change affects agricultural productivity, particularly among small-scale farmers in Africa who depend on the land for their livelihoods.

New outbreaks of infectious diseases like malaria and cholera are emerging while controlling existing diseases such as HIV becomes more challenging due to changing environmental conditions.

Our altered relationship with nature creates opportunities for new diseases to jump to human populations, COVID-19 being a recent example of this phenomenon.

Asthma, diabetes, and hypertension can be aggravated by unhealthy air quality and extreme temperatures.

Migration due to climate events or the search for better lives often brings new diseases and challenges in accessing healthcare for migrants.

Individuals dealing with the impacts of climate change often experience psychosocial stress leading to mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, and PTSD.

Family doctors play a crucial role in responding to these health challenges, making them essential in building more resilient communities.

The 19th of May is World Family Doctor Day, highlighting the role of family doctors in addressing the health effects of the climate crisis.