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Introduction to Week 6

Trailer
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We all know that climate change is a serious environmental problem. But health professionals are beginning to realize that it may be the greatest health threat of the 21st century. Why is that? Well, we know that the earth has already warmed by almost 1 degree, and that warming creates more moisture in the atmosphere and more extreme weather events like floods or storms, or heatwaves, or drought. And those extreme weather events have immediate and direct morbidity and mortality effects. But they also have much broader, longer term and widespread effects indirectly. For example, extreme weather events reduce food production in many areas leading to malnutrition or stunting and children.
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Extreme weather events can cause people to migrate, they can increase poverty and inequalities in health. And they can increase the number of armed conflicts in the world. In short, the health effects of climate change may well roll back the health gains of the past hundred years, and undermine many of the social and environmental determinates of health. This week we’ll explore the relationships between climate change, health, and healthcare. And we’ll look at the sustainability of health systems. You will travel to 6 countries around the world and learn about the health threats and opportunities in your area.
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If it’s true that climate change poses the greatest health threat of the 21s century, it also offers us an unprecedented opportunity to reduce climate-related structural violence through the health system itself. Join us!
Welcome to Week 6 on climate change and health.
Last week we came to understand how health professionals have responded to the threat of war, and in particular to the devastating effect of nuclear weapons. This week we will consider whether global warming should also be understood as a form of structural violence.
You will be taught once again by Stefi Barna, who coordinates the Sustainable Healthcare Education network. In her teaching to medical and allied health students in the UK and India, she has explored the broader picture of structural violence which we inflict against the Earth itself, and against the support systems which it provides for humankind.
By the end of the week, you will be able to:
  1. Describe the mechanisms by which climate change affects health.
  2. Identify the relationship between health inequalities and climate change.
  3. Discuss the duty of a doctor to ‘do no harm’ in this public health context .
Spend a few minutes watching the introductory video above, then move on to the next step when you’re ready.
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Medical Peace Work

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