Climate Change, Health, and Health Care Systems: A Global Perspective

Soko Setoguchi, Desmond Leddin, Geoffrey Metz, M. Bishr Omary

Publication Date: 03/01/2022

Many of us who have served in health care long enough witnessed a transition from cloth gowns, sheets, and reusable surgical trays to disposal plastic replacements decades ago. However, we have rarely connected a pair of gloves and equipment that were discarded after each use to melting ice caps and dying polar bears. Although climate scientists have long predicted the devastating effects of climate change, we have only more recently come to the realization that climate change is real and have been increasingly experiencing and poignantly witnessing climate disasters around the globe. For example, in 2021, one in three people in the United States experienced a weather disaster1; catastrophic flooding killed hundreds and affected tens of thousands in China, Europe, Canada, and Africa; and prolonged droughts strained South America as heatwaves became more frequent and severe around the globe. In October 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO) identified climate change as “the single biggest health threat facing humanity.