Nurses Key Role in Planetary Health

Nurses Key Role in Planetary Health

Posted on June 21, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of the interlinkages between the degradation of our environment and the health of our societies. However, policymakers often lack reliable data and concrete ways to measure the impact of environmental and climate change on citizens’ health & well-being.

On 12 May 2021, on International Nurses Day, the European Commission presented its Zero Pollution Action Plan, acknowledging the public health, environmental, moral and socio-economic impacts of pollution, and aiming to include pollution prevention in all relevant EU policies. In March, the Commission and the European Environment Agency (EEA) also launched a Climate & Health Observatory to provide access to resources related to climate change and human health.

In this context, it is key to discuss best practices on data-collection tools and indicators that can help to better understand, monitor and adapt to the impacts of pollution and climate change on human health. The integration of nurses’ data into these developments will be key as well as the development of APN in Public Health to contribute to digital data monitoring. Nurses are central in quality of live and well-being measurement and the implementation of regenerative/circular economy for health and wellbeing. However, circular economy is a necessary step but not enough and sustain the existing system, the goal must be the transformation towards a regenerative economy, maximising the positive externalities on the society and the planet. We need for proactive vision, plans and laws at the end of the chain.

Referring to the “zero pollution action plan for air, water and soil” and the “Green deal and safer chemicals”, Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius indicated that human health relates to the health of the planet with 92% of deaths are related to chronicle diseases, related to bad planetary health. However, we cannot manage what we cannot measure. We often fail to calculate the cost to the society, especially in health and environment? Pollution is a matter of social equality. “It is a battle we cannot afford to lose”, stressed the Commissioner. Nurses can be central in quality of live and well-being measurement, as the tools exists (ICNP). It is important to design the right targets, the right data to measure, and the right way to monitor and evaluate. Therefore, we need many data at the individual level!

For Sara Cerdas, MEP (S&D) and medical doctor in public health, we were in an emergency before covid-19: climate, pollution, biodiversity and their impact on health. “One Health” and “Health in all policies” approach is key. We need to prepare ourselves for resilience. There is an essential link between human health and planetary health.