Canadian medical students call for better education on health and climate change
2020-01-13 from healthing.ca
By Brenna Owen
VANCOUVER — Canadian medical schools have not adequately addressed the urgent need for training related to planetary health and climate change, and members of the Canadian Federation of Medical Students say that must change.
The growing health effects of climate change, such as the spread of Lyme disease and heat-related deaths, mean medical students must be prepared, the students’ group wrote in a comment for the Lancet’s Planetary Health journal last week.
The medical journal has indicated previously that climate change could be “the biggest global health threat of the 21st century.”
“There is a fair amount of teaching already, but a lot of room for improvement,” said George Kitching, a third-year medical student at the University of Western Ontario. He is also the co-chair of the student federation’s health and environment adaptive task force, or HEART.
“The message everywhere is that medical school curriculum is jam-packed, so when you try and introduce a lecture on climate change impacts, you have to take something out.”
Dr. Courtney Howard, an emergency physician in Yellowknife, disagrees with that approach.
Instead of adding and subtracting, planetary health and climate change must be integrated throughout the entire curricula, so health-care providers aren’t working in a silo, said Howard, who is also the board president of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment.
“We need an educational blitz that addresses medical and health practitioners at all levels.”
Otherwise, she said, doctors and health-care providers risk becoming disengaged and unprepared to protect people’s health amidst a changing climate.
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