Health­care lead­ers to tackle cli­mate change re­spon­si­bil­i­ties

Modern Healthcare - - THE WEEK AHEAD - —Bob Her­man

The health­care in­dus­try is adding its voice to the call for gov­ern­ments and busi­nesses to mo­bi­lize and halt the warm­ing of the Earth’s cli­mate.

This week in New York City, health­care lead­ers will have a global stage to col­lab­o­rate on po­ten­tial so­lu­tions.

United Na­tions Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral Ban Ki-moon will host Cli­mate Sum­mit 2014 on Sept. 23, a pre­cur­sor to more for­mal cli­mate ne­go­ti­a­tions sched­uled in Lima, Peru, later this year and in Paris in 2015.

Ex­perts have urged the health­care in­dus­try to take ac­tion and speak out on cli­mate change, which many ar­gue has con­trib­uted to neg­a­tive health out­comes, in­clud­ing in­creased rates of asthma and vec­tor-borne dis­eases. Most re­cently at the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion’s Au­gust cli­mate con­fer­ence, med­i­cal lead­ers called on health­care or­ga­ni­za­tions to sell their in­vest­ments in fos­sil-fuel com­pa­nies and in­stead invest in re­new­able en­ergy sources. Some hos­pi­tal sys­tems re­port­edly are con­sid­er­ing the switch.

One of the UN sum­mit ses­sions will fo­cus on how the global cli­mate shift is af­fect­ing hu­man health, and how mov­ing to a low-car­bon fu­ture can mit­i­gate pub­lic health risks. Dr. Richard Hor­ton, ed­i­tor-in-chief of the Lancet, will mod­er­ate the ses­sion. Dr. Gro Har­lem Brundt­land, the for­mer prime min­is­ter of Norway, will be one of the pan­elists.

On Sept. 21, more than a thou­sand groups—in­clud­ing Na­tional Nurses United, the Ser­vice Em­ploy­ees In­ter­na­tional Union, Physi­cians for So­cial Re­spon­si­bil­ity, Health Care With­out Harm and sev­eral state nurses’ unions—were sched­uled to par­tic­i­pate in a demon­stra­tion in New York City to de­mand swift pol­icy ac­tions to ad­dress cli­mate change.


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