Commentary: Health and Climate Connected
By Lesa Walker, Texas Medicine September 2020
I am a public health physician and a graduate of Baylor College of Medicine and The University of Texas School of Public Health. For almost 25 years, I served as medical director for the Children with Special Health Care Needs Services Program at the Texas Department of State Health Services.
The cover of the May 2020 edition of Texas Medicine caught my eye. It highlights the article by Sean Price, “The Temperature’s Rising – Preparing for the Health Effects of Climate Change.” I was so happy to see this article in Texas Medicine. Robert Haley, MD, and other Texas physicians are featured in the article, and their words ring true. Human health is inextricably connected with the health of the environment. Our actions to reduce the threats of climate change and global warming are key to our well-being and survival.
All people, and especially physicians, who have such an essential service and leadership role in our society, must work together to speak up, increase awareness, and help each other address the environmental challenges that we face. Inaction is harmful. We cannot be bystanders when environmental changes put people (our patients) at more risk for heat-related illnesses, air-quality illnesses, vector-borne diseases, water-related diseases and problems, and food-related illnesses. Each of us must do what we can to be a visible champion and part of the solution and encourage others to do so as well.
There is a simple action we can all take, which takes only a few minutes. The Texas Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) has put forward the “Call to Action on Climate and Health 2020.” I ask all Texas physicians to please read and sign the Call to Action. You can find it at texaspsr.org/call-to-action. The Call to Action has already been signed by more than 150 Texas physicians and other health care professionals, urging enactment of clean energy legislation in the interest of public health.
I have signed the Call to Action. Please join me and spread the word to your colleagues. We must speak up for the health of our patients. Together we can make a difference.
Lesa R. Walker, MD, MPH
Public health and preventive medicine specialist, Austin
Tex Med. 2020;116(9):4-5