Case Studies Shed Light on Emerging Health Trends Related to Climate Change

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Health professionals worldwide report growing incidences of medical conditions exacerbated by climate change and other environmental factors, including new and evolving infectious diseases, malnutrition, heat stress, physical trauma, and mental health issues. In response to the need for increased knowledge and approaches to treatment, the University of Washington (UW) Center for One Health Research and the Stanford Center for Innovation in Global Health have launched “Medicine for a Changing Planet,” a collection of case studies intended to serve as a global resource and call to action.

The studies are based on clinical experiences from around the world that can be traced to environmental factors and offer guidelines for more effective patient care. The majority of cases are focused on underresourced communities of historically marginalized populations, where the most severe impacts of climate change tend to occur. 

The framework seeks to empower health care providers to play a more active role in the response to climate change by identifying new diseases as well as sharing steps to manage such cases, according to Peter Rabinowitz, MD, UW professor of environmental and occupational health sciences and co-lead of the project.

Researchers hope health care providers will take advantage of the case studies collection as a resource to support their communities in adapting to new threats. Each study includes a call to action for clinicians and encourages them to involve public health agencies and other key stakeholders. Health providers are also urged to advance sustainability, develop stakeholder networks, advocate for policy change, and support related grassroots efforts.

This article was published in our November/December 2023 issue.