A note on why medical professionals should go hand in hand with the Fridays for future movement.
The threats of global warming are going to affect countries of the global south like Kenya much earlier and more radical as countries of the global north. The number of Refugees which are fleeing from health risks imposed by consequences of global warming are rising and will continue to do so.
A thrive for climate justice means zipping the CO2 emissions in countries of the global north to zero to admit countries of the global south to develop to an individual improved standard. Installing Climate justice into global politics is calling for international politicians to make global decisions. As Sub-sahara-Africa only measures 0,7% ton CO2 per capita whereas Germany is ranked 4th with 9,5% it is easy to note the unjust relation when accepting the fact that the Sub-saharan countries are going to suffer harder and sooner from global warming than countries in the global north.
Medical professionals should be active in the climate change movement to contribute to the changes which are in need for Climate Justice. Personally, visiting landscapes and seeing nature always gives me heartaches when realizing that humankind is on its way destroying these. Analysed from a medical perspective: Our exploitation of nature is an ultimate threat to health. Global warming and its consequences like floods which directly impose a health risk as e.g. communicable diseases start to spread immediately are utterly life-threatening to humans. As a physician the prevention of events like this should be a priority.
When having talks in the Kenyan Health Ministry
The first time I heard about the issue of corruption and its effect on the health care system was during my internship in the in Kilifi District Hospital. I asked why ever so often there is a shortage of medication and staff. Most of the people working there told me, that the money the government is providing to the public health care system gets lost and the funds they are receiving are not enough to cover costs for medication. My intend whilst talking to the employees of the health care ministry was to describe this conversation and ask for their assessment on this issue. The answer was short and frustrating. Financial Resources. The control of moneyflow falls under the responsibility of law enforcement and there was not enough money to hire the personal needed. Often the clinics are dependent on foreign NGOs providing medications. This results in political dependencies. The ground for equal negotiation on a global scale is lower for the country dependent on receiving medication from NGOs from countries mainly of the global north. The lack of financial resources, which could be used to improve the availability of medication in local hospitals, is result of a low tax rate in Kenya. A vast number of people in Kenya are rated as poor when and therefore, the national income based on taxes is low. Ending poverty is a keyfactor to improve not only the health care system but also living conditions. International NGO Work often fill gaps in the health care system which can easily be misused as easy solution for saving money and stripping the government from their own responsibilities.
When visiting Kiambu teaching hospital
A nurse working in the ambulant tuberculosis treatment centre took the time to talk to us. She explained treatment and follow-up of patients suffering from chronic tuberculosis. One major obstacle was patients coming to their designated appointments or being on time. This could lead to a prolonging of the treatment process or resistances of the bacteria to the TBC medications. Often the problem of patients not arriving to their appointments due to the cost of transportation to the clinic which a majority of patients could not afford. All the medications given here for the TBC treatment are donations by a North-American NGO. The dependence the employees of the health ministry told us about could be seen live here.
When interviewing researchers from the SRIC
The SRIC (Security Research and Information Center) is a national non-profit organization which researches and provide information on the subjects of civil armament and gun related crimes. For some of their projects they work together with the Kenyan government, but also do independent research. Two of their key factors are programs in northern Kenya to reduce the number of civilians purchasing guns for the protection of their livestock. Kenyas north faces two struggles. First the border to South Sudan where there is still war and second: borders which have been installed during the ages of colonisation. Violence and theft between different tribes is still a predominat cause for death and injuries. Another focus of the SRIC is the search for the origin of those guns being used in crime. The most common gun being used in crimes concerning the protection of livestock in the north of Kenya was the AR-15. A gun which is not manufactured or imported legally. Most of these guns have their influx from surrounding countries like South Sudan which is still roaring in a civil war. Coming from an active weapon exporting country like Germany this issue is very important. Even if we only export guns into “safe” countries this is no guarantee that those will stay there. As long as they are produced and traded, they will find their way into the black market and eventually will harm civilians or even those which are supposed to be “protected” by them.
Foreign interference and climate justice
Considering the issue of climate justices the decisions necessary for a sustainable solution must be made on a global scale. The same counts for policies concerning the foreign interference and post-colonial structures in African countries like Kenya. Looking at this from the perspective of negotiative power, countries of the global south are still deprived. Why is that so? Political power might be closely connected to military power. A majority of Atomic bombs and weapons is owned or accessible by countries of the global north. Their lifestyle and political ideals have a vaster influence on countries of the global south than vice versa. So why should medical professionals be active in the climate change movement to address the issue of foreign interference in countries like Kenya? The climate change movement has recently gained a vast amount of attention. Politicians are under pressure finding solutions to conquer global warming issues and solutions can only be holistic if every country in the world contributes. Comparing the foreign interference and the climate change both are utterly important to install justice in this world.
The attention for climate justice can be used. Policies concerning the climate change movement could help installing an infrastructure of global political decision making which in the long-term could benefit all issues which need to be addressed on a global scale. Once the framework is set and the process is established not only policies concerning climate change but also policies concerning foreign interference in post-colonial countries could be adopted. If we can use the challenge of dealing with climate change to install a process which allows us to make global politics and decision making with the aim to find an optimal outcome for every country, we will set the grounds for global politics. Medical professionals should therefore be active in the climate change movement to bring awareness to health risks of global warming but also see the opportunity for other issues like post- and neo-colonialism which imposes health risk in a different but nevertheless equally important way.