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The Journal of Climate Change and Health
Volume 6, 2022, 100147

Knowledge, attitudes and practices related to climate change and its health aspects among the healthcare workforce in India A cross-sectional study

Vishvaja Sambatha, Shweta Narayana, Punita Kumarb

Healthy Energy Initiative, No: 92, 3rd cross street, Thiruvalluvar Nagar, Besant Nagar, Chennai 600090, India.

Abstract

Introduction

Climate change is one of the greatest global health challenges of the 21st Century. India is especially vulnerable to climate change due to its geographic location, climate-sensitive livelihoods and prevalent health concerns. In that context, the healthcare workforce plays a critical role in addressing climate change and its health effects. While some initiatives are underway to equip the healthcare workforce in India, their understanding and interest to engage with this challenge was unknown. We conducted a cross-sectional study to assess the knowledge, attitudes and practices related to climate change and health among the healthcare workforce in India (i.e., community health workers, doctors, etc.).

Methods

A structured questionnaire was administered to participants between October and December 2020. The collected data (n = 3062) were analyzed descriptively.

Results

We found that although knowledge about climate change and its immediate health effects due to exposure to heat (80.9%), cold (79.2%) and disease vectors (79.1%) were prevalent among the respondents, awareness about the delayed or indirect health effects such as malnutrition was relatively low (58.4%). Several participants reported an interest to learn more about climate change, for instance, about linkages between infectious disease outbreaks and climate change (72.7%), and the role of health professionals in creating awareness on climate change (43.9%).

Conclusions

While additional research is needed to understand the roles and motivations of various healthcare actors to address these challenges, our findings are encouraging towards further interventions in this area. Our study also provided insights on the preferences regarding the communication media and material on climate change and health by the healthcare workforce. There is a need to enable climate-resilient health systems in India and in other countries that are disproportionately vulnerable to climate change, and studies such as this one can help in that direction.

Keywords: Adaptation, Climate change, Climate resilience, Healthcare preparedness, Health Systems, Health Workers.

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