Health Policy

The green light for a new approach

By - World Healthcare Journal

The green light for a new approach

When we launched WHJ in 2018, the first issue promptly challenged: does the perfect health system exist? Back then, we half expected to receive a flurry of excitable letters proclaiming to have the answer. Instead, it quickly dawned on us that, far from launching a global X Factor of clinical service exemplars, we had spent 100 pages (and the digital equivalent) asking the wrong question. We should have asked: what must be done differently to promote and protect health?

Thankfully, we were soon joined by people who thought about the challenges of healthcare in a different way. These people, two of which are David Duffy (Editor) and Francesco Tamilia (Deputy Editor), offer a different school of thought. They don’t occupy their minds with musings about where the next big hospital should be built, or who has the best clinical training between Germany and New Zealand. Instead, they take a holistic view of health (and healthcare) and the global challenge of protecting and promoting it.

It is with great pride that my final publication at Public Policy Projects focuses on a long overdue and broadly under-discussed topic – the link between our environment and our health. Six months ago, Francesco approached me with a desire to make this a priority focus for Public Policy Projects and has convinced us, not only of the importance of this issue – but also the urgency with which it must be addressed. In this issue we seek to spotlight the links between climate change and health, and challenge what can and must be done about it.

As we confidently proclaim: the climate crisis is a health crisis. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), indoor and outdoor air pollution is responsible for seven million premature deaths per year. Meanwhile, the 2003 heatwave resulted in seventy thousand deaths across Europe. Climate change is also aggravating the spread of infectiousdiseases such as dengue fever, which the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control reported 4,363 cases of across the EU/EEA in 2019. While we all have a role to play in combating climate change, healthcare services across the world must take responsibility as anchor public service institutions.

Thankfully, there are saplings of green best practice cropping up and leading the way to net-zero, including the UK and Canada. In addition to the health impacts of climate change, this model of thinking must be applied to the wider challenges facing the healthcare sector. This includes the global workforce shortage, where we place emphasis on the co-development of international solutions. We also draw a spotlight on health inequalities and ask how wider public services and non-health stakeholders can be part of a larger preventative approach, not a short-term reactive one.

And finally, we explore the cutting edge of scientific understanding in the field of genomics and life sciences which promise a new world of personalised medicine to treat cancers and rare diseases. Having spent a year and a half in the grip of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have clear evidence of the horrific damage a global health crisis can impart.

We must learn from our lack of preparation, mixed responses and plans to build back better. It is imperative that we do so globally, so we can address
the challenges of antimicrobial resistance, emergence of new diseases and climate related health impacts collectively and effectively. Governments must cement new networks of communication, partnerships with academics, community groups and industry, and ensure that new experiences are
cemented into fresh policy thinking.

I have learned from my colleagues that a new approach is needed. They have convinced me that we need to make a case for investment and collaboration, and that we shouldn’t be afraid to learn from one another and build from our mistakes. While reflecting on the pandemic, we must also look to the challenges ahead and, in doing so, drive a new approach to healthcare. This approach should capitalise on innovative technologies and equally progressive ways of joined-up, integrated working. It is time that we gave a new approach the green light.

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