White House hosts roundtable discussion about climate change and health.
Deans from UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UCLA and UC San Francisco are among a coalition of deans from 30 medical, nursing and public health schools nationwide committed to ensuring the next generation of health professionals are trained to effectively address all of the health risks their patients and communities face from climate change.
Several of these deans also participated in a roundtable discussion on April 9 about climate change and health with White House Senior Advisor Brian Deese and other senior administration officials.
Bruce Wintroub, M.D., interim dean of the UCSF School of Medicine, and David Vlahov, R.N., Ph.D., dean of the UCSF School of Nursing, joined the other deans in signing on to the training commitment statement, which builds on leadership of many educators around the country that already have begun incorporating climate change into their respective programs. Neither Wintroub nor Vlahov attended the roundtable discussion in Washington, D.C.
Over the past three decades, the percentage of Americans with asthma has more than doubled, and climate change is putting these individuals and many other vulnerable populations at greater risk of landing in the hospital. Certain people and communities are especially vulnerable, including children, the elderly, the sick, the poor and some communities of color. Rising temperatures can lead to more smog, longer allergy seasons and an increased incidence of extreme-weather-related injuries.
UCSF has been proactive in working to address concerns about our impact on the environment and in communicating ongoing efforts to improve the world in which we live. A June 2014 summit by the UCSF Office of Sustainability led to ideas on sustainability and environmental impact. In addition, Vlahov has advocated for nurses to think globally and act locally, as well as take an active role in bringing this issue to the public’s attention and advocate change.
“We have been early advocates for addressing the effects of climate change in our educational programs,” Vlahov said. “Having a community of academic institutions advocating together and acting to move on education will move us all forward.”
Julie Freischlag, dean of the UC Davis School of Medicine, was among those who participated in the April 9 roundtable discussion.
“It was a great honor and privilege for the UC Davis School of Medicine to have a seat at the White House roundtable,” said Freischlag. “Social responsibility and advocating for public policies that benefit the health of our patients, the community we serve and society at large are longstanding values at UC Davis. We look forward to examining our own curriculum for opportunities to address the effect of climate change on human health, and to working with our academic colleagues and the White House on making a difference on a national scale.”
Also making commitments are the public health schools of UC Berkeley and UCLA.
In addition to the four UC campuses, other schools signing the training commitment statement are Howard University, Des Moines University, University of Nebraska, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Vanderbilt University, Columbia University, Drexel University, George Washington University, Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, University of Maryland, University of North Carolina, University of Pittsburgh, Tulane University, University of Washington, Yale University, Emory University, University of Maryland-Baltimore, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, New York University, University of Pennsylvania and Washington State University.
The roundtable event was part of a series of National Public Health Week announcements by President Obama to reduce the health impacts of climate change on Americans.