Friday, September 22, 2017
This year, hurricane season has caused damage across the US and the Caribbean like never before. This has left many to wonder what role climate changes play in the recent devastation and what we can do to prevent it?
Dr. Mark Mitchell, Chair, National Medical Association Council on Medical Legislation and Co-Chair, National Medical Association Commission on Environmental Health focuses on climate change on the policy level and responding on the disaster level. He believes that the recent hurricane activity that we see is what was predicted. As climate changes, we will continue to see an increase in severe weather.
A 2014 survey shows that over 80% of members see patients with health effects from climate change. These health effects include injuries from storms, respiratory and cardiac illness, heat stroke, infectious disease, and mental health concerns related to loss of property.
Communities of color are even more likely to be impacted by climate change. For example, people of color are less likely to have the resources to evacuate during severe weather or have air conditioning in extreme heat. Climate change will continue to happen, but with proper prevention, there is still time to reduce its effects.
The NMA and its members have worked to combat climate change by making our voices heard on a state and federal level. NMA is a part of the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health and Dr. Annelle Primm, NMA member and psychiatrist is leading the All Healers Mental Health Alliance. This is a group of physicians, mental health professionals, faith leaders, emergency response professionals, and civil rights organizations that respond to Communities of Color that are neglected during disasters. This group was started after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and is now responding to African American communities in Houston, Port Arthur, TX, Florida and U.S. Virgin Islands.
Below is a list of resources you can use to help educate your patients and support us as we continue to work to prevent climate change and its effects:
NMA Council on Medical Legislation & Commission on Environmental Health Report
Climate Change, Health and Equity: Talking Points
A Physician’s Guide to Climate Change, Health and Equity
FamilyCare, CommunityCare and SelfCare Tool Kit: Healing in the Face of Cultural Trauma
CHEMICAL HAZARDS IN FLOODS & DISASTERS