The Healthy Climate Foundation
Climate change has been called the greatest global health threat of the 21st Century (Lancet, 2009). Some of the recognised risks include the direct impacts of vector-borne diseases, malnutrition, and extreme weather events, as well as the indirect impacts caused by human migration, conflict and post-traumatic stress. It is of particular concern to medical professionals, students, and volunteers with an interest in healthcare in developing countries.
Healthy Climate was set up to address climate-related issues by engaging the medical community with international climate change actions and policies. It includes the concepts of adaptation, i.e. enhancing the resilience of vulnerable regions, as well as the mitigation of carbon emissions related to healthcare work.
SolarCARE-Africa is the Healthy Climate flagship project. Bringing renewable and reliable electricity to medical facilities in Africa has both climate change and healthcare benefits. Intuitively, moving away from an addiction to fossil fuels has a broader climate protection outcome. At the same time it improves the adaptive capacity of resource-poor regions by reducing the inherent vulnerability associated with poor health. The Healthy Climate Network is a platform for international healthcare workers to join us and identify regions and communities in need of more reliable off-grid electricity. We work with suitable non-profit organisations in the solar PV sector to develop healthcare infrastructure in these settings.
Medics who travel abroad gain first-hand experience of the health threats of climate change. Unfortunately, the unavoidable use of air travel adds to the carbon emissions and negative impacts that healthcare workers strive to alleviate. To mitigate these impacts, we have built the offsetting of flights into the SolarCARE-Africa initiative. We appeal to our colleagues who will be flying in their professional capacity, e.g. to work overseas or attend conferences, to keep the climate in mind and reduce their unavoidable emissions. Members of the Healthy Climate Network can access the flight footprinting and offsetting service. Contributions are used to fill funding gaps for solar projects, thereby reaching more regions than would otherwise be possible.