Inaugural IGHD Webinar: Climate Change, Health, and Development

September 16, 2020
By: Maryam Farooq

On September 14, 2020 the Institute for Global Health and Development hosted its inaugural webinar on the topic of Climate Change, Health, and Development. There was international interest for this webinar with over 300 registrants from across the globe. Speakers and panelists represented multiple organizations and shed light on topics related to climate change and health within their unique contexts.

Majid Ezzati, Professor of Global Environmental Health at Imperial College London gave a presentation on Injuries-The Forgotten Risk of Climate Change. Ezzati shared how injuries are an important global health issue, especially for young adults, and is one of the leading causes of death globally. In addition to injuries being a global health concern, Ezzati's research shows how injuries are influenced by climate change. His work shows how injuries are highly seasonal, fluctuate with temperature anomalies, and are context dependent as well.

Zafar Fatmi, Professor of Environment and Occupational Health at AKU Medical College in Karachi, and Evans Kituyi, Director of the AKU East Africa Institute, presented on household air pollution in Pakistan and East Africa, respectively. Many rural communities, both in South Asia and East Africa, tend to rely on solid fuels such as dung, wood, and coal for energy purposes. Fatmi's research has shown how people, especially rural women, are at greater risk for acute coronary syndromes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease mortality, and lung cancer mortality due to the air pollution caused by solid fuels. Both Fatmi and Evans advocate for supporting clean fuel through continuous research efforts and policy initiatives to subsidize such programs for both environmental and population health purposes.

The webinar concluded with a discussion amongst all the presenters and panelists moderated by Dr. Bhutta, the Institute's Founding Director. The complexity of understanding climate change challenges and its impact on health was identified. Speakers highlighted the importance of collaborative research to better understand casual linkages. Doing so would allow for better initiatives to address these pressing issues.