Analysis | Climate change is increasingly viewed as a public health crisis – The Washington Post

by | Jun 14, 2022 | Climate Change

Placeholder while article actions loadHappy Tuesday, everyone. Yes, there’s a band called the Affordable Rock ‘n’ Roll Act. And yes, a prominent geneticist and White House acting science adviser is a member (h/t Stat)Today’s edition: The House will vote today on legislation to protect the families of Supreme Court justices. HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra has covid again, the second time in roughly a month. Many baby formula plants were inspected amid the pandemic. But first … The warming planet is a public health issueFor the first time, the American Medical Association adopted a policy declaring climate change a public health crisis. The nation’s largest physician trade group voted yesterday to put its lobbying heft behind policies aimed at limiting global warming and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The AMA will also create a strategy detailing what physician practices and the health-care sector can do to combat climate change. AdvertisementThis comes amid a growing sense that global warming is a threat to the health of people across the globe. And there’s a burgeoning sentiment that the health industry needs to be part of the response. The new efforts are coming from the nation’s health department — which recently established an Office of Climate Change and Health Equity, though Congress is yet to fund its work — on down to medical professionals who traveled to Scotland for this year’s United Nations climate summit. “Taking action now won’t reverse all of the harm done, but it will help prevent further damage to our planet and our patients’ health and well-being,” Ilse R. Levin, an AMA board member, said in a statement.The latestHere’s why advocates say climate change is a public health threat: Increasing temperatures have led to heat-related illness. Climate change has become a persistent danger to food security. El Niño weather patterns cause about 6 million children to go hungry — and could increase as the planet warms.AdvertisementOver the years, there’s been a notable shift among the health profession in recognizing how rising global temperatures endanger the health of millions of people.The National Academy of Medicine launched a public-private partnership to address the health industry’s environmental impact. As of April, more than 110 organizations have joined the effort.Last year’s U.N. climate change conference framed the issue as a critical public health problem, our Climate 202 pal Maxine Joselow reported.The World Health Organization referred to climate change as “the single biggest health threat facing humanity” in an October special report.Health groups — including the AMA, America’s Physician Groups and the American Academy of Nursing — signed onto a 2019 climate change agenda calling the issue “a true public health emergency.”At the federal governmentA case in point for how nascent some of the efforts are: The federal health department’s Office of Climate Change and Health Equity, which was created last summer, doesn’t yet have a dedicated pot of funding. (For a deep dive into that office, read more from Politico’s Sarah Owermohle.)The Department of Health and Human Services recently established another venture. Late last month, HHS created the Office of Environmental Justice (OEJ), which will be housed inside the climate change office and tasked with tackling long-standing health issues disproportionately impacting marginalized communities, like pollution and other environmental health issues.AdvertisementBut since Congress hasn’t yet funded the effort, that has meant the growing staff — many of whom have previously worked in the environmental justice space — are detailed from other parts of the federal government. “Once we get our funding, we can actually do more, but we’re going to do as much as we can, we’re going to do all we can, to really put those communities first,” Sharunda Buchanan, the office’s interim director, recently told The Health 202Among the office’s first tasks: Sifting through public comments, which are due at the end of the week, on a draft outline of HHS’s environmental justice strategy. The office is also working to find points of contact across the federal health department who are already working on environmental justice efforts to be part of a working group to implement the strategic plan.“Environmental justice and health are inextricably linked,” Buchanan said. “If you find an environmental injustice, you’re likely going to find some health issue.”Poll checkA majority of Americans say transgender women should stay out of women’s sportsMost Americans oppose allowing transgender women athletes to compete against female athletes at the professional, college …

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