“As more parts of the world experience the effects of climate change, we are going to start seeing more negative health outcomes and an impact on access to health care,” said Myles Sergeant, M.D., FCFP, a practicing family physician and director of the medically complex care program at St. Peter’s Hospital—Hamilton Health Sciences in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, who is one of the event’s speakers.
“Family physicians and other health care professionals need to look at this issue from a global perspective,” added Sergeant. “They also need to understand that there are actions they can take now to reduce the effects of climate change, while also preparing to care for people in the future who are adversely affected by climate change, in particular vulnerable and underserved populations who already have difficulty obtaining reliable health care resources.”
Sergeant has a longstanding affinity for nature and addressing climate change at the local level through community action. Along with his work as a family physician, he serves as president of Trees for Hamilton, a charitable organization that plants native trees and shrubs in areas of need in and around Hamilton; leads partnerships for Peach Health Ontario, a provincial initiative that help health care workers act on climate change; and executive director of the Canadian Coalition for Green Health Care, which aims for an environmentally sustainable health system.
“The emissions created in the global north have had devastating effects on the global south,” Sergeant said. “And in North America, the financially wealthy tend to live in areas with more tree cover and better health outcomes. For example, research has shown that for people living in urban areas, having access to trees or green spaces can reduce stress, lower anxiety and depression levels, and improve one’s mood. All of those can contribute to people living happier lives and living longer, so I can definitely see how climate change, global health and health equity are connected.”
In the upcoming, hour-long webinar, Sergeant and Sujane Kandasamy, Ph.D., will discuss the relationship between climate change and health equity, and specific steps to help attendees implement sustainable practices in clinic. Kandasamy is a postdoctoral researcher at Brock University in Ontario, and co-founder and director of education at The Starfish Canada, a national environmental sustainability nonprofit.
The event, which includes a Q&A session, will refer to resources such as the Green Office Toolkit for Clinicians and Office Managers and a sustainable prescriber infographic.
“I encourage family physicians who want to learn about actions they can take at their office or facility to decrease the carbon footprint to register for this event,” Sergeant said.
Participants can earn one AAFP Prescribed credit for each webinar they attend. Including the activities from last year’s global health webinar series, the total number of available credits will increase to eight once all of the webinars have officially launched. Details on learning objectives and more are available on the webinar series webpage.
The climate change and global health webinar is the second in the latest series of quarterly webinars on global health. The first, “Seasonal Migrant Health in Family Medicine,” premiered in August and is now available on demand.
Still to come are
Members can register for the live webinars individually or all at once. Make sure to bookmark the global health quarterly live webinars webpage for schedule updates and additional information.
Family physicians interested in learning more about climate change are also encouraged to explore AAFP resources including the Environmental Health and Climate Change webpage, an AFP by Topic article collection on environmental health and climate change, CME activities and the Climate Change and Environmental Health member interest group.