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climate change

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…

Sarah Walpole: Health through peace—mixing stories and science, and grabbing rays of hope

19 Nov, 15 | by BMJ

health through peace“We were deployed to attack civilians in their homes.” He stood in front of our 700 strong audience, bared the horrors of his experiences, and shared the pain of his realisation, all with brutal honesty. He described a standard operation carried out by British soldiers in Iraq: waking a family from their sleep with an explosion of the front of their house, holding them at gun point, separating men from women and children, bagging their heads and tying their wrists, smashing their belongings, stealing their documents, and leaving. He estimated that 95% of those on the receiving end of this procedure had no links to terrorism or militarism.  more…

David McCoy: Divestment is no grand gesture

30 Jul, 15 | by BMJ

david_mccoy According to Jeremy Farrar, head of the Wellcome Trust, the Guardian’s “Keep in the Ground” campaign to promote divestment from fossil fuel companies is merely a “grand gesture” that can be made only once.

At one level, he is right. The financial impact of the Wellcome Trust selling off its shares in fossil fuel companies would be negligible. But as a social and political gesture, the impact would be huge. The Wellcome Trust a prestigious and highly respected scientific and charitable organisation. It works to improve health and serve humanity. Its voice carries weight and through divestment, it would be sending a strong signal to governments and the general public that continued investment in fossil fuel companies is simply not compatible with the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.


Michael Wilks: Climate change—action at a national and global level is essential

1 Jul, 15 | by BMJ

The 2015 Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change was published on 23 June. A previous commission, established jointly by The Lancet and University College London, described climate change as “the biggest global health threat of the 21st century.” While the 2015 report recommends practical steps to be taken by national and international administrations, it also brings into sharper focus two components that cannot be ignored if a sustainable global solution is to be found to a so-far intractable global problem. more…

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