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Model: Medical Peace Work

Conclusion of Week 6

In Week 1, Professor Galtung suggested that violence is not limited to violent events. People can be killed, psychologically harmed, or deprived through socioeconomic and political structures in society. This is called structural violence and it exists at all levels of society, intertwined with the abuse of social and economic rights. In the case of anthropogenic climate change, structural violence expresses itself by undermining basic survival needs.

At the end of this week, you should now be able to:

  • Describe the mechanisms by which climate change affects health.
  • Identify the relationship between health inequalities and climate change.
  • Explain why climate change is seen as a kind of structural violence.

In addition, we discussed how health professionals can address the structural violence of climate change by bringing together practices that promote environmental sustainability and those that promote health. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions and moving toward a low carbon society will bring substantial health benefits everywhere, including industrialised countries.

Health professionals have an important role to play in reducing environmental degradation from health service activities, through better use of technology and information systems, and by better use of natural and human resources. The health system itself can be used to reduce structural violence in society by implementing practices are a “win-win” for both health and the environment.

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Medical Peace Work

University of Bergen

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