Líf - og heilbrigðisvísindaráðstefna Háskóla Íslands 2021

Climate change and health – Opportunities for health professional action

Main author: Katie Huffling
Institution or Company: Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments

Co-Authors, Institution or Company:
Helga Bragadóttir, University of Iceland. Teddie Potter, University of Minnesota School of Nursing. Geir Gunnlaugsson, University of Iceland. Freydís Vigfúsdóttir, University of Iceland.

Introduction: The International Council of Nurses Code of Ethics for Nurses states that “nurses have four fundamental responsibilities: to promote health, to prevent illness, to restore health and to alleviate suffering.” By addressing climate change and planetary health, nurses and other health professionals have an incredible chance to address these fundamental responsibilities on a population scale. For example, over 4 million deaths yearly are attributed to outdoor air pollution, and these numbers will only increase as the planet warms with climate change. Large-scale collaborative efforts by health professionals acting on climate change provides one of the most important opportunities to prevent disease and improve the lives of billions of people globally.

Methods: Worldwide, health professionals and scientists are consistently ranked as some of the most trusted professions. This presentation will review how health professionals can use their trusted voices to support policy changes impacting climate change and health. It will also highlight case examples of health professionals who are already acting to address climate change and improve the health of their patients and communities.

Results: Health professionals can be effective voices for change. Through interdisciplinary, collaborative efforts of health professionals and scientists, they can elevate climate change and health as an urgent policy issue.

Conclusions: Health professional and scientist engagement on policies at all levels, from local to global, is critical to broad actions to address climate change and health. These actions will not only prevent disease now but will provide a healthier future for generations to come.


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