A Canadian woman in her 70s has become the first person in the world to receive a climate change diagnosis. A doctor gave the clinical diagnosis after the woman complained of having issues breathing.
Sorry, You’ve Got Climate Change
The patient, who suffered from asthma, had gone to the emergency department at Kootenay Lake Hospital in Nelson, British Columbia seeking medical attention.
According to local news sources, the patient who attended to the patient, Dr. Kyle Merritt, said this was the first time in a decade that he wrote climate change as a cause of suffering. The emergency room doctor told the Glacier Media:
If we’re not looking at the underlying cause, and we’re just treating the symptoms, we’re just gonna keep falling further and further behind. It’s me trying to just... process what I’m seeing.
British Columbia experienced what is now on record as the hottest and deadliestheatwave in Canadian history, killing over five hundred people in the province alone.
Coupled with that, wildfires reduced the quality of air, making it more than forty times worse than acceptable and safe levels through July and August.
Climate Change Advocacy
The senior patient, was diagnosed in the summer, soon after the heatwave. Dr Merritt believes the harsh weather condition directly contributed to making her ailment worse.
She has diabetes. She has some heart failure .… She lives in a trailer with no air conditioning. All of her health problems have all been worsened. And she’s really struggling to stay hydrated. it’s hard to see people, especially the most vulnerable people in our society, being affected. It’s frustrating.
The diagnosis given by Dr Merritt has led to other doctors in the province launching an initiative called Doctors and Nurses for Planetary Health. On its website, it says the purpose of the group is to advocate for better health by protecting the environment.
We are deeply concerned about the climate crisis and its impact on health. This summer, our patients experienced extreme weather events of heat dome, drought, and severe wildfires.