Climate Change Advocacy is Global Health Advocacy

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Agness Dyson (left) carries a bag of potatoes grown by her family as a gift to PIH caregivers in Neno, Malawi. Regular access to food is one link between climate change and global health. (Photo by Zack DeClerck / Partners In Health)

As we recognize Earth Day, the annual day highlighting action on climate change is shrouded in the smog of COVID-19.

But that does not mean the health of our planet and the health of its people are two separate issues, or that one obscures the other.

They are inextricably intertwined.

That’s why Partners In Health, more than ever in this time of global pandemic, is recognizing Earth Day by urging greater global collaboration for climate justice and mitigation strategies that prioritize the world’s most vulnerable communities and address health concerns that extend far beyond clinical care.

“All rights and social justice issues are interdependent and therefore require collective action,” said Joel Curtain, PIH’s director of advocacy. “Achieving health equity also requires environmental, social, racial, and economic justice.”

As a social justice organization that strengthens health systems, provides and supports medical care, and trains local health care workers in 11 countries around the world, PIH has a firsthand view of how the global climate crisis affects human health—from the increased frequency of devastating natural disasters to rising air pollution, food insecurity, and clean water scarcity.

PIH staff and clinicians see the evidence through cholera outbreaks after devastating floods; HIV and tuberculosis epidemics fueled by malnutrition and air pollution; and rampant malaria amid severe rainy seasons, floods, and deadly storms.

And now, as the world battles COVID-19, it has never been more evident that pandemics highlight inequality and injustice on a global level—and the communities that bear the greatest burdens are those that systemically have received the least support.

In recognition of Earth Day, PIH strongly believes that we can cure the world’s worst injustices, together, by addressing planetary health as essential to humanity’s health—and ensuring health as a human right.

Action on climate change is critical for health. Health is a human right, one that climate change threatens directly.

Article originally posted on pih.org

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