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climate change

Farewell to DECC: What does its closure mean for the UK’s commitment to tackling climate change?

21 Jul, 16 | by BMJ

In among all the recent political developments, it may have been easy to miss that the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) became the latest fatality of the Cabinet reshuffle. DECC has been folded into the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), to now become the new Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). Removing “climate change” from the Department’s title sends out a foreboding message about the government’s commitment to combating global warming. Yet, we might also ask what is really in a name and does this actually mean a major setback for the fight against climate change? more…

Sarah Walpole: Collaborating across continents—what is the best that technology can offer?

4 Jul, 16 | by BMJ

sarah_walpole_2016The world may be getting smaller, but it’s not getting simpler. In the lead up to the Association for Medical Education in Europe (AMEE) annual conference 2016, we are working to prepare sessions fit for an international audience and our globalised world.

A symposium I was part of last year at AMEE on “Social accountability: medical students as leaders for sustainable healthcare” addressed a new and challenging topic from both theoretical and practical perspectives. Yet there was one major aspect of that symposium that we wish we’d done better: creating an environment for active participation, group work, and networking. more…

Sarah Walpole: Staying in the EU is better for health and the environment

23 Jun, 16 | by BMJ

The EU debate is a fantastic example of how statistics can tell you what you want to hear, with both sides appearing to use the same facts to come to opposing conclusions. Yet on environmental issues, the story is not so perplexing.

Environmental organisations, from the Wildlife Trust to the RSPB to Friends of the Earth, are firmly in the Remain camp. The EU guarantees a minimum level of environmental protection, because it defines the environment as a “shared competence” where there are minimum standards that member states must meet. The EU is also the right forum to create and monitor policy on international issues, for example fisheries, where reforms have allowed the protection of fish stocks. more…

Brexit: Bad for your health and bad for the environment

22 Jun, 16 | by BMJ

The UK Health Alliance on Climate Change, which brings together major health institutions including the Royal College of General Practitioners, Royal College of Physicians, Faculty of Public Health, and Royal College of Nursing, considers a vote for Britain to “remain” in the EU as important for the protection of our health, environment, and tackling climate change.

It is well know that the environment and public health are inexorably linked. We are unable to have healthy people in a sick planet. There are wide-ranging impacts from poor environmental health, for example air pollution causes 40,000 premature deaths in the UK each year. Polluted air and waters, flooding, and heat waves increase the burden on our health services through increased admittance, staff absence, and health infrastructure not being able withstand the impacts of extreme weather. Policies and targets from the EU have substantially improved the quality of our air, water, soil and beaches, and have provided a stronger response to climate change. Leaving the EU threatens to weaken environmental policies, damaging the health of our environment and citizens. more…

David McCoy: Antibiotic resistance is also a food and climate issue

17 Jun, 16 | by BMJ

david_mccoyWhen George Osborne spoke to the IMF in April about antibiotic resistance being a greater threat to mankind than cancer, one might assume that the current government had actually listened to some professional advice from the medical community. Sally Davies, the country’s Chief Medical Officer, has been raising the alarm that the growing emergence of antibiotic resistance is a ticking time bomb of potentially apocalyptic proportions.

This impending crisis has been in the making for decades during which time governments across the world have failed to implement the financing arrangements, laws and policies to ensure proper stewardship over the sale and use of antibiotics. Underlying this failure has been the broad trend towards the deregulation and marketization of health systems, and the effects of structural adjustment programmes and public budget cuts in many countries. more…

Alice Munro: The National Emissions Ceilings Directive—a critical week for the health of Europeans

8 Jun, 16 | by BMJ

alice_munroToday EU leaders will attempt to come to an agreement on air pollution reduction targets that will determine the quality of our air for the next 15 years. The National Emissions Ceiling (NEC) Directive is a key piece of EU emissions legislation that is central to efforts to reduce air pollution. [1] The success of the agreement will, however, depend on the UK government and other member states abandoning efforts to weaken and delay the directive.

The new proposed targets cover six pollutants: sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, ammonia, and volatile organic compounds PM2.5 and Methane. How the targets are achieved is up to member states, but all must be committed to intermediate and final targets for 2020, 2025, and 2030.  more…

The SOCHARA Team on providing community health in India

27 May, 16 | by BMJ

The Society for Community Health Awareness Research and Action (SOCHARA), an Indian NGO, is recognised widely for its promotion of community health through networking, innovative training, research, policy engagement, and solidarity with movements and networks such as the People’s Health Movement, medico friend circle, and COPASAH. Recently the occasion of SOCHARA’s silver jubilee gave us the opportunity to reflect on 25 years of experience. The SOCHARA family is large not just because of the “once you enter, you will always be a part” culture but also for its partnerships and solidarity. This was well reflected in the diversity of participants at the meeting. Also in attendance were those who received and continue to receive mentorship in their respective community health journeys from SOCHARA members over the years. Our ethos of social justice, scholar activism, and non-hierarchy have reportedly played a role in shaping the work culture of several individuals and organisations. more…

Nick Watts: Why the global health community is calling on the G7 to pull the plug on coal

18 May, 16 | by BMJ

nick_wattsWhen the G7 got together last year, they committed to protecting the poorest and most vulnerable people against the impacts of climate change. One year and a Paris Agreement later, those countries are convening again in Japan, where public health emergencies will be a key priority for discussion.

Health professionals from around the world have come together to suggest a key treatment to G7 leaders as they strive to lessen the burden of public health emergencies: phasing out coal-fired electricity.

Accelerating the phase-out of coal will immediately reduce emergency room visits for asthma, heart attacks, and other diseases—and is an essential treatment for the medical emergency of climate change. more…

Elizabeth Atherton and Josephine Head: How environmentally sustainable are the UK’s new dietary guidelines?

21 Mar, 16 | by BMJ

Last week saw the launch of the Eatwell Guide—the UK’s official food guide to healthy diets. Astonishingly, despite major changes in eating habits and advances in nutrition science, this is the first review of these guidelines since their original publication 20 years ago. While the update—prompted by expert recommendations on sugar—is long overdue and welcomed, it is increasingly clear that the food we eat doesn’t only affect our individual health, it also has a big impact on the health of our planet. Whilst many are celebrating a step in the right direction, we need to ask if the new Eatwell Guide goes far enough to address concerns about the environment. more…

Tony Waterston: Coming up for air at COP 21

16 Dec, 15 | by BMJ

Standing under the Eiffel Tower on the last day of the climate conference in Paris, the solidarity I felt with the thousands of demonstrators from around the world was invigorating. I went as part of the Friends of the Earth action weekend because I’m certain that climate change is the greatest threat to global health and particularly to child health. This prediction was corroborated by speakers from some of the countries likely to be most affected, including El Salvador (flooding and increased hurricanes) and Nigeria (desertification, climate refugees, and the prospect of unbearable heat waves).

There is surely enough evidence on the impact of climate change on child health to convince any climate sceptic, and the latest comes from UNICEF. more…

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