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Health care professionals can help combat 'the greatest threat to human life'


This summer’s heat waves had people scrambling for ways to stay cool. In the Lower Mainland, pool hours were extended, cooling centres were set up to prevent heat-related illness and power usage hit an all-time high. Ongoing wildfires and poor air quality in the interior were another reminder that global warming’s effect on our health has never been more evident. 

Centre for Clinical Epidemiology and Evaluation annual public lecture

Globally, the World Health Organization has declared climate change to be the greatest threat to human health. The message of the upcoming annual public lecture from the Centre for Clinical Epidemiology and Evaluation (C2E2) at Vancouver General Hospital on September 27 is that health professionals have a pivotal role to play in responding to this threat. 

The title of this year's lecture is "A Healthy Response to Climate Change." This year’s keynote speaker, Dr. Courtney Howard, is a research scientist and emergency physician from Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. Howard says climate change has direct impacts on public health, and Canadian health providers have a responsibility to both prepare a response and work on mitigation. 

“We own this problem whether we want to or not," said Howard. "We are already responding on a clinical level to the impacts of climate change—whether it’s more lung disease diagnosis from increasingly severe forest fires, or death and illness from heat waves or rising cases of Lyme disease as more ticks survive our warmer winters.” 

Howard says physicians and researchers have always had a duty to prevent and respond to threats to human health. “In the case of illness such as heart disease, lung cancer or diabetes we look upstream at things like sugar intake and smoking habits, and we engage in prevention efforts. Climate change is no different and we have an ethical duty to prepare for it.”

Find the rest of this story at Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute

Lecture details and registration

  • Lecture title: "A Healthy Response to Climate Change"

  • Speaker: Dr. Courtney Howard

  • Date: September 27, 2018

  • Location: Vancouver General Hospital

  • Register by September 13, 2018. This lecture is open to the staff and the public. 

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