Nurses play essential roles in reducing health problems due to climate change

In a statement, the American Academy of Nursing warns against the rollback of climate protective standards and calls for community-based initiatives that support populations most vulnerable to the health consequences of climate change.


It's important, as noted climate scientist and science communicator Ed Maibach of George Mason University said in a tweet: Nurses are stepping up to fight climate change and protect health.

The American Academy of Nursing has 2,500 members, or fellows, and seeks to advance health policy, practice and science through better nursing practice. The statement was authored by two nurses who also hold Ph.Ds: Patricia Butterfield, professor and associate dean of research at Washington State University's Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine, and University of Massachusetts professor emeritus Jeanne Leffers.

Butterfield and Leffers focus attention on two policy streams: Upstream, where efforts center on mitigating the problem of climate change, and downstream, related to disaster response. From the report:

Nurses play essential roles in both reducing and responding to the health consequences of climate change. Not only are they critical to every facet of health promotion and patient care, nurses are also trusted messengers of health information and serve as essential personnel during all phases of disaster response.

One key upstream recommendation:

"Educate the public so that they understand the connections between their health and climate health," they write. "An informed citizenry is needed if health protective policies are to be enacted and supported."

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