Keywords: planetary health, environment–health–health care relationship, medication-related pollution, health-care sector carbon emission
The climate crisis is also a health crisis. Climate change and environmental pollution have a direct effect on human health. GPs are already noticing the consequences during their consultation hours. In addition, healthcare is one of the causes of climate change and environmental pollution, and thus a threat to the health of the patients. GPs should think about how they can promote the health of their patients in a way that does not unnecessarily burden the environment. This concerns lifestyle advice that promotes both health and the environment. It concerns choosing a treatment that is medically optimal, but protects the environment. It is about sustainable housing, use of materials and transport. And GPs need to be aware of changing epidemiology and emerging diseases due to climate change.
The 'GP & Planetary Health Game' is played on a balance board. This educational game for GPs (in training) is about finding an optimal balance in medical care, aiming for a high level of care that is delivered in an efficient and sustainable manner, with a high degree of patient safety and satisfaction. Participants play together (Planetary Health is a common goal that can only be achieved through cooperation). As a team they carry out assignments in the fields of pharmacotherapy, transport, housing, use of materials, lifestyle, prevention and emerging diseases. This involves sharing knowledge, discussion and exchanging experience. The game leader provides additional information and determines whether the team can go to a higher level.
After playing this game, the awareness of the participants about the consequences of climate change for health has increased. They have more knowledge about the contribution of healthcare to the climate crisis and pollution of the environment. The participants discussed their responsibility and have received tools to do something about it in their own practice.
Points for discussion:
Healthcare is one of the causes of climate change, and therefore a threat to public health. Doctors should make an effort to change this.
A healthy lifestyle is good for people and the environment. Doctors should make more effort to promote a healthy lifestyle among their patients.
Planetary health is too important to leave to politicians, doctors should take the lead.