Climate Action is Critical for Health Equity. Community Health Clinics are Key – and Need More Support.

Environmental News from the USA: 

When Dr. Patel cares for babies born at her nursery, she coaches parents on how they can protect their newborns from climate change-driven health threats like extreme heat and smoke.

Often, her patients live in housing without working air conditioning or insulation, in hotter neighborhoods due to pollution, or are more exposed to wildfire smoke and poor air quality.

As climate change continues to pose significant health effects, with underserved communities of color enduring the greatest harm, “We can’t ignore the threats,” said Patel, a pediatric hospitalist at Stanford Children’s Health on California’s central coast. “We need to bring a climate lens to the services that we provide.”

More medical providers are bringing that lens to health care to address disparities, and experts say community health centers, who primarily serve low-income people of color, are essential to addressing climate change-driven health inequities.

“They are on the frontlines of every one of our larger societal failures,” Patel said. “But it’s a resource-starved environment … Our community clinics need more support to be able to do this really important work.”

The agencies are starting to recruit up to 10 clinics for pilot programs tailored to communities’ needs, with a goal of expanding to 100 clinics by 2025. The programs will focus on offering tools to battle health issues that erupt due to climate change and making clinics more resilient to climate shocks.

Under-resourced communities of color have fewer resources to weather climate shocks and suffer disproportionate chronic illnesses that make them more vulnerable to climate-driven health problems.

While awareness is growing, Pathak, a volunteer physician at Clarkston Community Health Center, said more systematic support will be needed for health centers, which are “core to our ability” to address climate health equity.

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Source: Yahoo News

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