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Climate Change as a Global Healthcare Issue

Climate Change as a Global Healthcare IssueClimate change is one of the most topical determinants of people’s health globally. Since there is no universal understanding of the phenomenon, the concept is a core of numerous controversies. While some scholars tend to emphasize that climate change, mostly global warming, is the result of detrimental human activities, others specify it as a natural process of modifications in the environment. Nevertheless, this factor is of utmost importance, whereas the problem entails a set of impacts on populations’ health and wellbeing. For instance, climate change is a significant driver for undermined socioeconomic conditions that hinder proper health patterns for people across the globe. Therefore, the paper considers the issue in light of its relevance for the establishment and maintenance of global health from the perspective of the nursing field.Historical Perspectives on Climate Change Learning in NursingFirst, one should emphasize that in recent decades, there has been increasing attention to awareness about climate change issues in the sphere of nursing education and practice. To illustrate, these trends have been observed due to an intersected set of patterns among the complex characteristics of the evolving global population. The indicators include the increased flow of information across the international borders and movement of people, along with the displacement of certain residents because of climatic transformations in the environment. In any case, it is evident that climate change factors have been in the center of nursing knowledge for a long time.Based on the complex nature of the phenomenon, the problem requires a multifaceted educational approach in the scope of nursing training. On the one hand, the above argument stems from the fact that climate change has many manifestations and impacts accordingly. For example, one can mention that the problem expands on social and environmental determinants of health, such as clean air, sufficient food, safe drinking water, and secure shelter, and may be considered a threat to health. On the other hand, the factor presupposes thinking skills and knowledge toolkit for forecasting and planning. In particular, while some climate change effects involve increased frequency and intensity of heat-waves and flooding, and more extended and changed the distribution of disease vectors, their consequences can be minimized largely, if proper population healthcare education and preventive measures are put into practice. While these aspects and features have been acknowledged in the sphere for long, the actual practical implementation of these knowledge-based indicators remains of little effect, if any, since practitioners lack the expertise and training in addressing these issues.The Importance of Documented/Published Healthcare Disparities/InequalitiesAt the same time, the importance of documentation of healthcare disparities and inequalities with regard to climate change implications should not be underestimated. Therefore, this factor will be a facilitator and a key driving force for illustrating a crucial need for taking immediate action in this context. Consequently, there will be a focus on a particular climate change issue, and timely response to its impacts will be ensured in both the short and long run. In addition, the significance of the procedure for determining the multiplied levels and extent of vulnerability of the population can be identified in such away. Thus, some areas are prone to frequent and adverse flooding impacts as, for example, Taiwan and Japan suffer from earthquakes and tsunamis while the US coastal areas have frequent hurricanes. Therefore, these circumstances clearly distinguish specific regions, which are sensitive to climate change, as well as people living there. Moreover, developing and poor countries are positioned within the riskiest niche in this context since they are unable to secure their populations at all. As a result, documenting and highlighting such cases are powerful instruments for developing education, preventive and response policy updates, cross-sectional and cross-national collaboration, and prioritization of climate-related issues among others.Formalized Regulatory GuidelinesNumerous attempts have been made to develop the regulatory background for climate change implications, although these attempts are of rather a controversial effect. For instance, the 1997 Kyoto Protocol was created as a law-abiding effort to minimize the human-induced harm on the environment and its eligibility authority was spread on the majority of countries. Along with other regulations, the Kyoto Protocol was developed to ensure the decreased human impact on the ozone layer depletion as the recognized root cause of global warming and subsequent climate change. These regulations aimed at ensuring “causing no harm”, making all states as “good neighbors,” implementing the “precautionary principle” in the health sphere and establishing “sustainable development” for all. However, the greatest manufacturers, thus polluters, such as the USA and Russia among others, did not sign the protocol at all as compared to developing and underdeveloped nations. Therefore, the most influential developed states tended to ignore the severity and seriousness of the problem-posing a great threat to the health and wellbeing of poor nations covered by the regulation.On the other hand, the World Health Organization (WHO) has proposed a regulation that entails planning of readiness and responsiveness to climate change issues, namely, targets the consequences rather than determinants of the phenomenon versus global health correlation. The regulation comprises of generalized National Adaptation Plan (NAP) to be used as a pattern for the states in ensuring their preparedness and responsiveness to climate change issues. The document is a common framework but it requires adaptation and flexibility at the national level to make sure that it works at the global one.Moral and Ethical Issues in Global Healthcare vs. Climate ChangeDrawing upon the previous analysis, one can see that states across the world are not equally positioned with respect to the maintenance of global health in terms of climate health issues. Indeed, rich and poor states are vulnerable to natural disasters, such as tsunamis in Japan during the Fukushima earthquake or hurricanes in the USA (Hurricane Katrina). Despite the devastating impacts of natural disasters on developed states, developing countries are likely to suffer even more severe and detrimental impacts. What is more, the fact that superpowers tend to ignore international regulations for the reduction of harmful effects, as mentioned earlier, again positions poorer states in the at-risk groups of higher-level vulnerability. Thus, there is an explicit moral obligation of the richer states to eliminate this inequality for reaching the worldwide health objectives. Apart from that, ethical implications stem from the role played by nurses in this context. Of course, these professionals cannot eradicate the challenge, although they can be valuable actors in terms of healthcare education, along with primary care as a screening and response measure.‘Burden of Chronic Care’ Related to Climate change climate change is the burden of chronic diseases since fluctuating and/or changing environmental factors, as direct determinants of human health, pose a serious danger for people with chronic conditions. For instance, poor air quality influences the condition of people with respiratory diseases such as acute asthma. In addition, under the influence of climate change factors, chronic ailments may transform into more severe diseases, including various forms of cancer. Moreover, the fluctuations of weather from hot to cold and vice versa can lead to increased comorbidities and mortality, especially in patients with cardiovascular conditions. Similarly, the extent and severity of impacts on the people with chronic diseases may vary across the regions such as inland and island, rural or urban areas.Healthcare Productivity and Economic CostsWhen nursing and other spheres pertinent to the field are poorly prepared or slow in response to climate change issues, this factor negatively affects the global population and their health in general. For instance, as summarized in Appendix 2, states and populations experience substantial material losses due to climate change impacts that are manifested through the estimated costs of premature deaths and illnesses developed on these grounds as well as overall increasing expenditures in the sector. In the USA alone, this sum has grown from $5 billion to $27 billion from 1970 to 2010 despite the advancement in nursing training and education and technologies. On the other hand, Appendix 3 offers a summary of savings that can be obtained through the organization and implementation of the best practices aimed at eliminating the challenges of climate changes in healthcare. Thus, while the productivity of the sphere is undermined and fragmented, the likelihood for improvement exists.Summarizing the findings of the paper, it is evident that climate change is an important element when the pursuit of global health is concerned. Apart from the fact that the problem is linked to the environmental and socio-economic aspects of human health, the issue includes the factors of vulnerability and inequality with respect to various regions and populations. The nursing sphere has long been aware of the phenomenon and its devastating effects for diverse populations, but the factor is still poorly integrated into the practice. Nevertheless, there is an urgent need for reconsideration of the issue of climate change in nursing due to the increased morbidity and mortality among populations along with high-level expenditures for individuals and states in general, not to mention other implications.