The WHO estimates almost 1 in 4 deaths worldwide are due to avoidable environmental factors and climate change, affecting disproportionately the most vulnerable populations such as children, elderly people and low-income families in all countries. Paradoxically, healthcare services are major contributors to pollution and climate change, as they are responsible for 8 to 10% carbon emissions in most countries, and release large quantities of toxic waste that is not always properly managed.
Get informed, get involved!
As future healthcare professionals, we need serve as role models to the rest of society and minimize / eliminate the environmental impact of our own healthcare sector. As IFMSAians, we have a responsibility to travel and organize events in a way that does not negate our efforts to create a better world. The AM2018 OC invites all delegates and IFMSA enthusiasts to use the resources below to explore how environment and climate change impact health, and to take action to minimize their own environmental footprint.
What can you do?
As a delegate:
- Offset your flight and/or on-land transportation to GAs. For the August Meeting 2018, offsetting can be done for the whole delegation at once on the registration platform for Heads of Delegation.
- Stay tuned for the publication of our Green Survival Kit ! Make sure you follow the DOs and Don’ts to be respectful of the environment during the August Meeting, and reduce your ecological footprint.
- Bring your reusable water bottle and coffee mug!
As a healthcare professional:
- Inspire yourself from the work of Healthcare Without Harm to reduce the environmental impact of healthcare in your country, city and hospital: https://noharm.org.
- Be mindful of the environmental issues affecting your patients health.
- Keep an eye out for advocacy opportunities for healthier environments in your country, city and municipality.
For example, in Canada, physicians successfully advocated to phase-out highly polluting coal plants in the province of Alberta in 2015, and started a movement that led to a national commitment to phase-out all coal plants in Canada by 2030! Many similar success stories exist across the world.
As an individual:
- Calculate your ecological footprint, and look at the detailed breakdown of the causes for your use of the planet’s resources. Use an online tool such as: http://www.footprintcalculator.org
- Identify your most wasteful habits, and identify simple actions to reduce their impact (many eco-friendly ideas can be found on online blogs and websites, for less wasteful habits related to shopping, eating, washing, heating, traveling, and many more).
- Over time, try to integrate more eco-friendly actions into your everyday life, and inspire your family and friends to do the same!
Here are some resources to get you started on simple actions. Start with the actions that you can easily implement, and then give challenges to yourself!
What does IFMSA do?
IFMSA Green Chart for eco-responsible events.
IFMSA Training Manual on Climate and Health
IFMSA Program on Environment and Health
Policy Statement on Environmentally Sustainable Health Care Facilities
Policy statement on Climate Change and Health
What does WHO do?
Programme on Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health
10 facts about preventing disease through healthy environments
10 facts about climate change and health