Students@SPM 2024: From Eco-Anxiety to Action – Building a Health Shield Against Climate Change

Our planet’s health is at risk. Climate change, the long-term shift in temperatures and weather patterns driven by human activities threatens global health. To confront this challenge, Master of Public Health (MPH) students from Group 3 hosted a powerful seminar titled “Climate Change and Health System Preparedness.” This event delved into the complex link between climate and health, focusing on building a resilient health system – a shield against the coming threats.

The seminar unpacked the science behind climate change, laying bare its diverse and often devastating health impacts. Vulnerable populations, like low-income communities and indigenous peoples, were highlighted as being disproportionately affected by climate-related emergencies and facing greater difficulties accessing healthcare. The seminar also acknowledged the emotional toll, exploring concepts like eco-anxiety and eco-grief arising from the climate crisis.

But this wasn’t just about the problems. Experts presented a beacon of hope – strategies for strengthening our health systems. These strategies included reducing carbon emissions to improve overall health outcomes, building climate-resilient and sustainable health infrastructure, and implementing early warning systems for climate-sensitive diseases.

The seminar featured presentations from both national and international heavyweights. Dr Thahirahtul Asma’ Zakaria from the Ministry of Health and Dr Normazura Mustapa from the Melaka State Health Department shared insights into Malaysia’s preparedness efforts. Hon. Alfredo M. Coro II, Mayor of Del Carmen, Philippines, provided valuable lessons on successful disaster preparedness strategies. Finally, Dr Fong Chng Saun from the Universiti Malaya offered a global perspective on climate science and its public health implications.

The resounding message? Collaboration is key. Policymakers, healthcare professionals, and the public all have a crucial role to play in building a climate-resilient health future. This seminar wasn’t just about sharing knowledge; it was about fostering a unified approach to mitigating the health impacts of climate change. The MPH students extend their sincere gratitude to Associate Professor Dr Tharani Loganathan, the Module Coordinator, for supporting this vital learning experience.

Join the Fight! Climate change is a pressing public health issue, but it doesn’t have to be an insurmountable one. Learn more about how you can be part of the solution and contribute to climate change and health initiatives. Don’t stand by – the health of our planet and ourselves depends on it!

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