NRS 428 Benchmark Policy Brief

NRS 428 Benchmark Policy Brief

NRS 428 Benchmark Policy Brief

Benchmark: Policy Brief and Climate Change

Climate change is considered a critical aspect of public health with communities and individuals experiencing its impacts, especially its effects on the quality of air around the world. In their article, Blumenthal and Seervai (2018) assert that the U.S. health care system is one of the most affected by climate change as the country is one of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases, making it a major contributor to air pollution and global warming. Further, they opine that the environment shapes the health system and recent catastrophes show that climate change has adverse effects on the health care system’s capacity and ability to meet patient needs (Johnson& Lichtveld, 2017). The purpose of this paper is to discuss the effects of climate change on healthcare delivery system, its effects on the population and propose a solution to the issue.

Policy Health Issue

The World Health Organization observes that climate change impacts the social and environmental determinants of health that include clean air, safe drinking water, secure shelter, and adequate food supply to different population. The organization asserts that climate change is a serious global phenomenon that will impact different aspects of health at individual and community level with effects like increased mortality rates from diseases like malaria, diarrhea, heat stress as witnessed by increased heat waves across the country and other parts of the world and malnutrition, especially in developing regions and countries in the world. In their article Chen and Murthy (2019) opine that the human and health effects of climate change are evident in the extreme weather conditions that are leading to disruption of lives by exacerbating chronic health diseases like asthma and expanding the range of infectious diseases and worsening mental health illnesses (Johnson & Lichtveld, 2017). Climate change is also causing growing health effects associated with population displacement and migration and climate-triggered instability and conflicts. Extreme weather events disrupt health infrastructure that include utilities, transportation, and communication systems that are critical to maintenance and access to emergency services and care.

Climate change affects many people since it is a global phenomenon (Hathaway & Maibach, 2018). However, individuals with chronic conditions, those living at coasts, and those in poorer communities are the most affected. Those living in regions prone for extreme weather are also hard hit by the issue. Children are also vulnerable and affected by aspects of climate change like air pollution that exacerbates conditions like asthma and respiratory illnesses contributing to heart disease, cancers and lung diseases among others.

Problem Statement

The problem statement on climate change and health stakeholders’ awareness is essential to addressing the issue. A

NRS 428 Benchmark Policy Brief
NRS 428 Benchmark Policy Brief

problem statement on the issue begins with who, what, where, why and when of the problem.  Climate change affects all people, especially those from lower socioeconomic status and those vulnerable to the effects of extreme weather due to sensitivity or lack of protection. Climate is anthropogenic as it emanates from human actions that necessitate emissions of greenhouse gases like methane and carbon dioxide which trap heat in the atmosphere leading to global warming that result in climate change (Hathaway & Maibach, 2018). Climate change is now happening as evident through increase in temperatures and if the world does nothing, it will worsen and impact all aspects of healthcare delivery and life in general. The problem statement therefore, addresses the need to have policies and suggestions to tackle the issue and reduce its effects on health at individual, community, and even global levels.

Suggestions to Address Climate Change

Early, deliberate and responsible actions from a multi-agency approach can help in safeguarding health and people’s safety from the vulnerabilities and detrimental effects of climate change.  Measures should focus on addressing future effects of climate change while tackling the current situations to attain greater benefits for all affected populations. Robust climate-health initiatives and programs help reduce the emission of carbon elements into the atmosphere that trap heat to cause global warming.

The American Public Health Association created the “Climate, Health, and Equity: A Policy Agenda,” aimed at attainment of health energy, enhancing transportation and land use, and advance the use of agriculture system as critical to addressing the adverse effects of climate change (Johnson & Lichtveld, 2017). The policy prioritizes three primary areas aimed at providing a climate action for health, a health action for climate, and funding of the two approaches.

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Policies on reduction of emissions of greenhouse gases through transitioning to clean, renewable and sustainable transportation and agricultural systems are key to mitigating the severity of climate change and its effects on healthcare delivery. The health care sector contributes significantly to climate change as it produces close to 10% of total greenhouse gases in the U.S. Hospitals and health systems should address climate change as a public health issue by decreasing their carbon footprint, transitioning to clean, renewable energy and having climate-resilient facilities.

Healthcare providers and professionals have substantial influence on heath delivery systems and can protect their patients from the effects of climate change through development of sustainable, climate-smart facilities and systems. Physicians can advocate for their facilities to be part of the Health Care Climate Challenge and mobilize institutions across the world to protect public health from the adverse effects of climate change (Chen & Murthy, 2019). They can offer participants easy-to-use resources to assist support climate-smart solutions. Evidence suggests that health providers can help their patients and communities participate in climate change initiatives to reduce their carbon footprints and respond immediately to these conditions (Salas et al., 2020). Caregivers need to understand the effects of climate change on disease patterns and population vulnerabilities through awareness creation by physicians and nurses.

Steps to initiate policy changes include identification of the problem with stakeholder gathering relevant information on the effects of climate change on public health and the population (Friel, 2019). They should identify the features, severity, scope and financial implication of the issue. The second encompasses policy analysis through research and identifying options to address the problem. The analysis provides an opportunity to understand issues like morbidity and mortality associated with the issue and other factors affecting it like political and socioeconomic perspectives (Johnson & Lichtveld, 2017). The implementation of the policy leads to effective steps by stakeholders in enactment of the identified interventions like cutting down greenhouse gases emissions through use of clean and sustainable energy solutions, smart-hospitals, and innovative ways to reduce carbon footprints among providers, patients, and health populations.

Impact on Health Care Delivery System

Climate change has negative effects on human health as it restricts people from performing outdoor activities, leads to disruptions in care provision and increases susceptibility to infectious diseases. The implication is that the health care delivery system is impacted due to the disruptions and increased cost burden of emergency room visits due to attacks from chronic diseases like asthma and more hospitalizations because of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases (Wang, 2020). The direct damage to health by climate change is close to $3 billion each year with estimated projected to rise as more regions continue to face unpredictable weather situations.

Conclusion

Climate change affects human health due to its severity and detrimental implications. The healthcare delivery system will continue to shoulder the burden based on increased cost of care, exacerbation of conditions, and need for emergency room visits. Stakeholders must find ways to address the unpredictable nature of climate change through policies like the APHA’s policy on getting resources to address these effects.

 

References

Blumenthal, D. & Seervai, S. (2018). To Be High Performing, the U.S. Health System Will Need

to Adapt to Climate Change. https://www.commonwealthfund.org/blog/2018/be-high-performing-us-health-system-will-need-adapt-climate-change

Chen, A. & Murthy, V. (2019). How Health Systems Are Meeting the Challenge of Climate

Change. https://hbr.org/2019/09/how-health-systems-are-meeting-the-challenge-of-climate-change

Friel, S. (2019). Climate change, global justice, and health inequities. Climate Change and the

            People’s Health, 1-56. https://doi.org/10.1093/oso/9780190492731.003.0001

Hathaway, J., & Maibach, E. W. (2018). Health Implications of Climate Change: A Review of

the Literature About the Perception of the Public and Health Professionals. Current

Environmental Health Reports, 5(1), 197-204. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40572-018-0190-3

Johnson, B. L., & Lichtveld, M. Y. (2017). Steps in environmental health Policymaking.

Environmental Policy and Public Health, 25-50.  https://doi.org/10.1201/9781351228473-2

Salas, R. N., Friend, T. H., Bernstein, A., & Jha, A. K. (2020). Adding A Climate Lens To

Health Policy in The United States: Commentary explores how health care policy makers can integrate a climate lens as they develop health system interventions. Health Affairs, 39(12), 2063-2070. https://doi.org/10.1377/hlthaff.2020.01352

Wang, J. (2020). Climate-smart health care: The power of health care action on air pollution and

climate change. European Journal of Public Health, 30(Supplement_5). https://doi.org/10.1093/eurpub/ckaa165.299

World Health Organization (WHO) (2021). Climate change and health.

 https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/climate-change-and-health