The mission for 30 Harvard Medical School (HMS) students is clear: be the generation that takes action now to secure a livable world for future generations to come.
Members of Students for Environmental Awareness in Medicine (SEAM) are working to address how physicians view the impact of environmental issues on human health. And climate change is their predominant focus.
“We have a moral obligation to mobilize and address climate change, as we treat and will continue to treat patients impacted by it,” said Shadaab Kazi, a first-year medical student at HMS and student organizer of SEAM. “We have a critical role in communicating the health challenges posed by this issue, and the need to adapt to these challenges, to the public, and policymakers.”
Kazi spoke to more than 100 members of the Harvard medical community at “The Medical Response to Climate Change: What Can We Do?,” a panel discussion at HMS last week.
The panel included faculty from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Harvard Global Health Institute, and health care professionals from Boston Children’s Hospital and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
Researchers across Harvard’s campus are pushing key initiatives to address catastrophic human health consequences of climate change — including poor air quality, temperature-related death and illness, disastrous weather events contributing to infection, food and water insecurity, and overall destabilization of the global ecosystem.
“Because we are Harvard Medical School, we must also lead,” William Lensch, chief of staff to HMS Dean George Daley, said in his opening remarks. “Researchers in our medical community are investigating some of the most important and intimidating problems — new and exacerbating clinical challenges in the communities we serve, and we are working to incorporate the consequences of climate change into our curriculum. There’s a lot to be done.”