The World Medical Association has echoed a high-powered call for health professionals to be more involved in the management of childhood exposure to air pollution.
The call has come at the first World Health Organisation conference on air pollution being held in Geneva. The WHO, in its report on air pollution and child health, says health professionals should help shape public health policy on reducing the exposure of pregnant women, children and adolescents to air pollution.
It adds that health professionals are trusted sources of information and guidance and play an important role not only in treating ill health caused by air pollution but also in educating families and patients about risks and solutions and communicating with the broader public and decision-makers. The report says this role must be amplified and the broader health sector must become more engaged in preparing a comprehensive approach to addressing this crisis.
Speaking at the conference, Dr. Lujain Alqodmani, from the WMA welcomed the call and said that health professionals must be well informed about air pollution health risks and what measures can be taken to combat the crisis.
One suggestion would be to follow the example of Kuwait University, which has included air pollution as a main environmental health determinant in its medical curriculum.
She said at the WHO conference that the whole health workforce needed to be equipped with the right skills to address air pollution health risks as part of the initial clinical patient evaluation. Medical education institutions should produce advocacy teaching materials about air pollution and health and be accessible through online tools to health workers and implemented by health care institutions’.
Dr. Alqodmani said later: ‘Physicians around the world are aware of air pollution. It impacts the quality of life for hundreds of millions of people worldwide, causing both, a large burden of disease as well as economic losses and increased health care costs’.