The American Medical Association has adopted a policy declaring climate change to be a public health crisis that threatens the health and well-being of all people. This move follows growing evidence that climate change is causing major health problems around the world.
“The scientific evidence is clear – our patients are already facing adverse health effects associated with climate change, from heat-related injuries, vector-borne diseases and air pollution from wildfires, to worsening seasonal allergies and storm-related illness and injuries. Like the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate crisis will disproportionately impact the health of historically marginalized communities,” said AMA Board Member Ilse R. Levin, D.O., M.P.H. “Taking action now won’t undo the damage done, but it will help
to prevent further damage to our planet and the health and well-being of our patients. This crisis needs to take a look in the mirror and ask what it can do to help reduce carbon emissions if it truly wants to address climate change.
The AMA has decided to take a stand on climate change because of the expected health impacts. Some of these effects have already been observed with increasing numbers of wildfires, resulting in poor air quality, heat-related deaths and hospitalizations, extended drafts, and climatic changes promoting the spread of mosquitoes and other insect vector diseases.The goal of this policy in health care is to recognize that medicine needs to find ways to decarbonize to aid global efforts because it is a large segment of the economy and a significant consumer of both fossil fuel energy and petroleum-derived plastics for medicine. Devices and most medical products are single use.
The new policy also recognizes the health, safety, and climate risks of current methods of producing hydrogen from fossil fuels and the dangers of adding hydrogen to natural gas. As part of the new policy, AMA will develop a strategic plan on how to develop climate change policies.This includes advocacy priorities and strategies for decarbonizing the physician practice and health sector by reporting to the House of Representatives at the 2023 Annual Meeting.
The policies adopted today build on the American Medical Association’s existing policies and initiatives to expand environmental sustainability and efforts to halt the global climate crisis, including policy to assist physicians in implementing environmentally friendly programmes in their practises and sharing these notions with their patients and communities.