Last week, medical and healthcare students across the world stood in solidarity with the global youth climate strike. We are increasingly concerned about the harmful impact of the climate crisis on the health of our patients and the population. Therefore, as both students and future healthcare professionals, we made the decision to join the youth strikes. This decision was not made lightly. We acknowledge our responsibility to our patients and the healthcare community. Any students with clinical commitments did not attend the strikes. However, we also believe this responsibility means that we cannot simply ignore the climate emergency. Many students and healthcare professionals chose to take leave or use their free time in order to express concern for the critical health threat posed by the climate crisis and the need for rapid climate action in the healthcare sector and beyond.

The consequences of climate change can be seen in almost every aspect of health; e.g. malnutrition, cardiovascular disease, respiratory diseases and allergies. [1] Seven million people die solely as a result of exposure to air pollution annually, and the human toll of climate change is increasing. [2] At the same time, climate change mitigation and adaptation have so-called “health co-benefits.” Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, increased active transport and healthy sustainable diets lead to improved health outcomes and reduced mortality while improving our environment. Planetary and human health are intimately connected. [1] Yet, there seems to be a general lack of awareness in our communities on these climate sensitive health outcomes and the health benefits of climate action.

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