Respiratory medicine experts from the UK and the USA are calling on healthcare professionals to advocate for patients on the public health impacts of climate change.
In an editorial published in Thorax, the authors say silence is consent and healthcare professionals must not be silent in relation to climate change.
“For the respiratory community, the public health impacts of climate change mean that environmental protection is very much ‘in our lane’,” they say, adding that air pollution “is harming our patients now and through its impact on the development of children’s lungs, is storing up lung disease for the future”.
As well as advocating for change, the medical community must ensure that patients themselves and patient representative organisations are aware of the dangers of climate change, the article states.
The authors stress that they do not consider these arguments to “arise from a position based in party politics”. “Instead, we regard this as an ethical imperative stemming from our commitment to the Hippocratic Oath, and the Declaration of Geneva to attend to the health and well-being of our patients, and to do no harm,” they say.
“On climate change, a significant but preventable health risk to all of us and to future generations, silence is consent, and we must not be silent,” they state.