WASHINGTON, DC (April 16, 2012) —The Catholic Health Association of the United States, a member of the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change, has published a new resource that considers the causes and consequences of climate change in light of the Catholic health care ministry.
Titled Climate Change and Health Care: Is There A Role For The Health Care Sector?, the document recognizes that Catholic health care ministries have a moral imperative to respond to the call of Pope Benedict XVI, and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and public health authorities to address the human health implications of climate change. The report says, "As Catholic health care providers, climate change is a moral concern and our faith demands prudent action to reduce our carbon footprint." Of particular importance is the reality that, "Populations who are at greatest risk and considered most vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change lack the ability to cope with the consequences of climate change." These vulnerable populations include the unborn, children, older adults, and those in poverty.
The document also describes the various negative health impacts climate caused by climate change now and in the future including heat-related illnesses, poor birth outcomes, malnutrition and food insecurity, degraded water quality and availability, vector-borne diseases, respiratory diseases, numerous psychological impacts and premature death. In light of these adverse health impacts, Climate Change and Health Care asserts, "Climate change has been characterized as '...the biggest global health threat of the 21st century,' and is already negatively impacting human health that will multiply dramatically if no action is taken."
Responding to these challenges, Climate Change and Health encourages a variety of "Opportunities for Action" throughout Catholic health care ministry. Health care ministry partners are encouraged to advocate on environmental and climate change policy, consider personnel efforts to reduce individual carbon footprints, engage in local climate change adaptation strategies, and attend to operational energy efficiency, waste reduction and sustainable purchasing of all kinds. The document concludes, "Health professionals are trusted by society worldwide. They must honor the trust covenant they have with those they serve by advocating for policies and practices that will help to mitigate and adapt to climate change."
To access the report here. Complimentary hard copies (shipping rates will apply) are also available by going to CHA's website and ordering. Order copies of this booklet here.
The Catholic Health Association of the United States (CHA), founded in 1915, supports the Catholic health ministry's commitment to improve the health status of communities and create quality and compassionate health care that works for everyone. The Catholic health ministry is the nation's largest group of not-for-profit health systems and facilities that, along with their sponsoring organizations, employ more than 750,000 women and men who deliver services combining advanced technology with the Catholic caring tradition.
In 2006, the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change was launched with the support of both the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the National Religious Partnership for the Environment. The Catholic Coalition on Climate Change supports and complements USCCB's Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development (formerly, the Department of Social Development and World Peace) and the bishops' Environmental Justice Program. The Coalition is a membership organization consisting of twelve national Catholic organizations that offer advice and assistance in implementing its programs.