Working Groups // Climate Change

The climate change discussion group started small but gradually grew in members by the minute as word reached the street that it was “pretty hip”. The discussion included both the public health related outcomes of climate change and the actual activities that influence the climate change phenomenon. The broadness of the discussion prompt was thoroughly explored. Here are some of the ideas that received more attention:
-How droughts and reduced access to water can make the resource an object of conflict and a cause of population displacement.
-The expected rise in sea levels as another cause of population displacement and its effect on medical infrastructure.
-The social and economic impact of extreme events and the probability that countries with little experience on these events may be underprepared for a potential hit.
-Changes in vector and pathogen habitats that result in the displacement of diseases towards unsuspecting countries in colder, drier climates.
-The grim effect of both heat and cold weaves that result in increased mortality.
-The pollution of the seas, the effects of microplastic and the current initiatives to tackle these issues.
-The effects of increased air pollution on suicide rates, perhaps due to an exacerbation of patients’ symptoms.
-The surprising fact that climate change hinders animal growth, thus resulting in smaller and smaller animals every year.

Two distinct outcomes resulted from this discussion.

On one hand there is the question of whether EuroNet MRPH can or should do anything to contribute in the fight against Climate Change. A campaign was proposed to promote awareness within and beyond the association. This, to an extent, can be considered a current “work in progress” in the form of a carbon footprint estimation project proposed for the Valencia Summer Meeting; the idea of which is to estimate the amount of emissions caused by our means of transportation and how much it would actually cost to neutralize such an impact.

The other, perhaps more obvious outcome is the proposal of a working group on one of the different discussed subjects. The lack of easily accessible data was observed although there are some free to access resources on things like rainfall, meteorology or air pollution. The review of different national policies in countries represented in EuroNet and beyond was also suggested. Although a specific line of work was not identified, climate change turned out to be an issue that leaves no one indifferent. This fact along with its pressing nature make it an excellent research theme for members of the association.

Brief bibliography

Air pollution
Worldwide 9 out of 10 people breath polluted air. Air pollution, in and outdoors is a known environmental risk to health. By decreasing air pollution levels, burden from cardiovascular events, lung cancer and both chronic and acute respiratory diseases can be reduced. Strategies at national, regional and local level are mandatory. Public health together with policy makers have a privilege position to mobilize all society sectors to make successful policies regarding transport, energy, urban planning, waste management, agriculture and industry. Addressing risk factors for noncommunicable diseases is the key to protect public health.

Burden and Mortality
Climate change is not a new issue in global agenda, as well as environmental adverse effects on health(1). Climate consequences are not limited to low and middle-income countries, and Europe will not be spared in such global threat. It is expected that climate change will cause over 250 000 additional deaths per year between 2030 and 2050(2).

Children’s environmental health
In 2012, 26% of children’s deaths were caused by environmental-related risks. As high vulnerable population, children are at danger because of their small body size, developing organs and immune system, and their behavior. Proportionally, they ingest more food, drink more water and breath more air than adults. Environmental management is needed to mitigate climate change results, in order to protect children and their ecosystems.

Climate action
Susatinable Development Goal #13

Climate Models and the Use of Climate Projections
Models are fundamental tools for studying the potential impacts of climate change, including changes in temperature, precipitation, and sea level. If modelling capacity exits, state and local health departments should use them when applicable. The climate models project possible future climate shifts under the conditions of the specific scenarios.

Food and climate change
Assuring sustainability of natural resources is the key protect climate change consequences, especially in what concerns food and agriculture. No other sector is more sensible to climate change than agriculture. Through maintaining good practices in food security, we can help fight hunger and increase prosperity in most needed populations.

Global health
Populations health is a result of interactions between genetic, behaviours and environment. Realising new patterns of demography and societies today, allows us to adopt sustainable strategies to the future(1). Economy, industry, energy, transport, food, waste, water, air, jobs need all to be address in matter of ecological development(2). Nevertheless disasters cannot always be preventable, it is possible to prompt manage risks and control outcomes with oriented responses through active surveillance and preparedness(3). Evolving policy makers, health sector and communities is the way to create healthy environments and a sustainable development.  
3 Environmental health in emergencies and disasters. A practical guide. Edited by B. Wisner, J. Adams.

Healthcare settings
It is not possible to address these issues without giving health systems an essential role on moderating climate impact on populations’ health and societies. By decreasing their not minor footprint, the sector can be an example that transformations are accessible to all, even in segments as complex as health systems. Second and more appealing to managers and business associates is that these changes can have a serious impact on systems budgets and expenses. Remarkably, health sector can improve public health and reduce costs simultaneously.

Healthy Cities
Cities play a crucial role socially, culturally and politically. Global problems are being dealt with at a local level.

Noncommunicable diseases
Besides total environmental related deaths have been constant, in the last decades a shift from infectious diseases to noncommunicable diseases was seen both in environmental fraction and burden, translating years of development in water safety and sanitation in low and middle-income countries. By estimating burden of disease that can be attributable to environmental risks, we can predict how measures can have impact on safeguarding people’s health – population attributable fraction. The acknowledgment of which factors can be amendable is crucial to support evidence in order to locate resources in actions that have a quantifiable benefit.

One Health
One health through a cohesive concept, addresses environment and human health sinergically with animal welfare and veterinary medicine. By moderating consequences through multiple tactics, it is possible to achieve objectives in their whole dimension.