In a first, patient gets diagnosed with ‘climate change’

Hyderabad: The danger of climate change which is usually seen as a far-off impending global catastrophe might not be as far off as most would like to believe. Carbon levels continue to rise resulting in extreme weather conditions that continue to have severe consequences on life on earth despite all the climate accords, announcements, meetings, and promises to cut down carbon emissions by the next 50 years.

Now, however, after the reported extinction of about 600 species per day since the past few years, the fire seems to have reached the house, as in what seems to be the first recorded case ever, a patient who came in with breathing trouble has been diagnosed to be suffering from “climate change” by a doctor in Canada’s British Columbia province.

Canada’s Times Colonist newspaper reported that the patient was struggling to breathe after the recent wildfires in the Kootenays region in the British Columbia province. The region which reportedly saw over 1,600 wildfires this fiscal year, worsened her asthma.

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Numerous cases where the record heatwave exacerbated existing health issues like diabetes, heart failure, etc., were seen by Dr Kyle Merritt, who heads the Kootenay Lake Hospital’s emergency room (ER) department. Dr Merrit reportedly reached out to other medical professionals in neighboring provinces to Prince George, Kamloops, Vancouver and Victoria. A link between mortality or severe illness to heatwaves or air pollution was witnessed and he was faced with treating the surging cases of heat illness that the physician had seen only in medical school.

After Lytton in British Columbia recorded an all-time high of 49.6 degrees Celcius on June 29, hundreds of people have died in a heatwave that broke Canadian heat records.

Dr Meritt said that he is trying to just process what he is seeing. “We’re in the emergency department, we look after everybody, from the most privileged to the most vulnerable. from cradle to grave, we see everybody. And it’s hard to see people, especially the most vulnerable people in our society, being affected. It’s frustrating,” he remarked.

After putting together a collective named “Doctors and Nurses for Planetary Health”, Dr Merritt hopes that his action will help other physicians to establish a more straightforward link between their parents’ health and climate change.

At the ongoing COP26 summit in Glasgow, the link between public health and climate crisis has been a hot topic. However, many of the deals and announcements made have been criticized by activists as not aggressive enough to make a meaningful difference.

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