CPD Articles

Towards a climate-resilient primary health care service

Christian L. Lokotola
South African Family Practice | Vol 65, No 1 : Part 4| a5749 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/safp.v65i1.5749 | © 2023 Christian L. Lokotola | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 20 March 2023 | Published: 26 September 2023

About the author(s)

Christian L. Lokotola, Department of Family and Emergency Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa

Abstract

Climate change has been declared as the biggest threat to human health in the 21st century. Not all family doctors are aware of the threats and how to tackle them. There are three key aspects to consider: the health and social effects of climate change, the challenge of climate change to primary health care (PHC) facilities and services, and the contribution of health services to the problem of climate change. Climate change and global pollution are ecological drivers associated with significant health and social effects that are often seen in PHC services. These ecological drivers impact health and society via a number of proximate causes, such as air pollution and decreased food production. The health and social effects include malnutrition, infectious diseases, non-communicable diseases, displacement and migration, and mental health problems. Climate change-induced extreme weather events are associated with immediate loss of life and injuries, destruction of homes and livelihoods, and disruption of PHC facilities and services. For adapting to these challenges, the World Health Organization has developed an operational framework for a climate-resilient health system. The Global Green and Healthy Hospitals agenda provides practical guidance for mitigating the contribution of health services to climate change. This article uses these frameworks to suggest practical steps that family doctors can take in leading climate adaptation and mitigation within PHC.


Keywords

primary health care; climate change; air pollution; family doctors; resilience

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