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Integrating a climate lens into the design of education programmes for health professionals
  1. Tara Tai-Wen Chen1,
  2. Denise Thomson2,
  3. Julia Sharobim3,
  4. Omolola Titilayo Alade4,5,
  5. Thanya Pathirana6
  1. 1Geography and Environmental Management, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
  2. 2Department of Pediatrics, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
  3. 3Faculty of Health Sciences, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
  4. 4Global Health Program, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
  5. 5College of Health Sciences, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria
  6. 6School of Medicine and Dentistry, Griffith University, Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Tara Tai-Wen Chen, Geography and Environmental Management, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Canada; tara.chen{at}

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Climate change is the major public health crisis of this century. Extreme climate events lead to direct impacts on health systems. For example, increased hospital admissions and emergency department visits may result from exacerbated cardiorespiratory morbidity caused by extreme heat.1 2 Indirectly, climate change also leads to health system disruptions through impacts on hospital infrastructure and workforce burn-out.3 Globally, there is an increasing recognition of the important role that health systems must play to respond to the evolving impacts of climate change.4 In 2015, the WHO introduced an operational framework for building climate-resilient health systems, emphasising the role of the health workforce in guiding responses for transformational adaptation strategies.4

Climate change should be incorporated in to educational and training programmes for all health professionals to ensure they are able to urgently adapt and transition our health systems to low carbon and low waste models of care and to become climate resilient.4 However, the uptake of climate education in the curricula has been slow, and the current health professional curricula are deficient in climate change and its health impacts.5–7 With the overwhelming scientific evidence on the current and ongoing threats on human health due to climate change, some assert that it may even constitute ‘educational malpractice’ to exclude the wide-ranging implications of climate change on health from these curricula.8

The paper aimed to bring together members (academics, researchers and students) of the Cochrane Climate-Health Working Group with a shared interest and professional responsibility in integrating evidence about the climate crisis to health professionals’ education at the undergraduate and postgraduate level. Our search strategy was built on the keywords: ‘curriculum’, ‘climate change’ and ‘health’, focused on academic databases. To support further understanding of professional development, information retrieval strategies further included searches in professional bodies/associations (broadly …

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  • TT-WC and TP are joint first authors.

  • Collaborators All authors are members of the Cochrane Climate-Health Working Group.

  • Contributors Conceptualisation and methodology: TC, TP, DT, JS and OA; formal analysis: TC and TP; writing—original draft preparation: TC and TP; writing—review and editing: TC, TP, DT, JS and OA. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Disclaimer The views, opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in these papers and articles are strictly those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of any entities they represent.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.