The looming health threats posed by climate change should drive doctors around the world to demand that leaders enact strong and immediate against global warming, argue 18 physicians from across the globe.
A letter making that argument was signed by the doctors and published simultaneously this week in both The Lancet and the British Medical Journal.
The letter reads as follows:
“The UCL Lancet Commission on climate change and health (May 16, p 1693) concludes: ‘Climate change is the biggest global health threat of the 21st century.’ In this report, the authors emphasise not only the immediacy and gravity of this threat, but also the directness: while the poorest in the world will be the first affected, none will be spared. The escalating carbon footprint of the developed world has led to the present situation, but the rapid impact on developing countries such as the encroaching deserts in Africa is the immediate price.
“This is one reason why doctors must take a lead in speaking out. Another is that there are important co-benefits of tackling climate change for those with long-term conditions in the developed world, such as those that come from more exercise with less use of cars and dietary change with reduced meat consumption. In December of this year, world governments meet in Copenhagen, Denmark, to negotiate a new UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. There is a real danger that politicians will be indecisive, especially in such turbulent economic times as these. Should their response be weak, the results for international health could be catastrophic. Doctors are still seen as respected and independent, largely trusted by their patients and the societies in which they practise. As leaders of physicians across many countries, we call on doctors to demand that their politicians listen to the clear facts that have been identified in relation to climate change and act now to implement strategies that will benefit the health of communities worldwide.
“We declare that we have no conflicts of interest.”
The signing physicans represented medical institutions from around the world:
- The Academy of Medicine of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia;
- The American College of Physicians, Philadelphia, PA, US;
- The Bangladesh College of Physicians and Surgeons, Dhaka, Bangladesh;
- The Ceylon College of Physicians, Colombo, Sri Lanka;
- The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Pakistan, Karachi, Pakistan;
- The College of Physicians of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia;
- The College of Physicians of South Africa, Rondebosch, South Africa;
- The Colleges of Medicine of South Africa, Rondebosch, South Africa;
- The Hong Kong Academy of Medicine, Hong Kong, SAR China;
- Hong Kong College of Physicians, Hong Kong, SAR China;
- The Royal Australasian College of Physicians, Sydney, NSW, Australia;
- The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, Ottawa, ON, Canada;
- The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK;
- The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK;
- the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, Dublin, Ireland;
- The Royal College of Physicians of Thailand, Bangkok, Thailand;
- The West African College of Physicians, Lagos, Nigeria; and
- The Royal College of Physicians of London, London NW1 4LE, UK.
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