A medical doctor’s perspective on the vital link between climate change and public health

When World Environmental Health Day was approaching, B  E  L I E V E . took the moment to reflect on how we, perhaps all of us, think about this day, and whether we could use the opportunity to challenge ourselves to other levels of awareness and to take action to address the challenges at the nexus of climate change and public health.

With this in mind, we approached Dr. Shirin Hund, a passionate healthcare professional, to see if she might talk with us about the relationship between climate change and public health. Dr. Hund is a Harvard University trained Medical Doctor, a scientific researcher, medical educator, and author of multiple peer-reviewed publications in the fields of medical education, medical humanities, and clinical immunology in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, Academic Medicine, and Immunology.  

She currently works at Spital Zollikerberg, in Zollikerberg, Zurich, Switzerland. Dr. Hund has received grants to support her interests in improving medical access and services for vulnerable patient population.

It was a true privilege to have Dr. Hund’s invaluable insights on how climate change profoundly impacts healthcare, and how events like World Environmental Health Day are pivotal in fostering awareness about these critical issues.

What does World Environmental Health Day signify in the context of your work and your commitment to climate and environmental health?


Every World Environmental Health Day brings a new dimension to our attention because before we would always talk about Earth Day; we talk very much and very often about climate change, and in the past few years, the concept of environmental health is coming to the forefront. This is very important because the dimensions of health, the determinants of health that are affected by the environment, are so grossly influenced by this dynamic climate change that having a greater public awareness of this change is paramount.

It affects my patients as a primary care provider, it affects patients that we see in the hospital, and we have to pay more attention to this aspect and perform more of an environmentally-focused clinical history when we talk about the patient. I mention clinical history because we rarely ask patients: what type of place do you live in? Do you live in a place that is extremely humid, that might have mold, that might have fungus? Do you live in a place where the air quality is not as good, as regulated, as it should be? Do you live in a place where there are often wildfires that are affecting your health? We don’t talk about these things in the context of patient care. We only talk about these things in the context of how this affects our environment, or the  economy.

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