Doctor in Canada becomes first in the world to diagnose patient as suffering from "climate change"
“If we're not looking at the underlying cause... we're just gonna keep falling further and further behind."
A doctor in Canada has made headlines worldwide after diagnosing a patient as suffering from "climate change".
The diagnosis was made in British Columbia (BC), which was affected by the extreme heatwave that swept North America this summer, sparking extensive wildfires.
Hundreds of deaths that occurred in BC as temperatures rose in the region in late June are believed to be linked to the extreme weather.
Dr Kyle Merritt was working as head of the emergency room department at Kootenay Lake Hospital in Nelson in British Columbia at the time and told Times Colonist of his experience seeing first hand the effects the heat and wildfire smoke had on his patients.
The newspaper reports that when a patient came in struggling to breathe, the doctor knew the smoke that had not lifted from the region for days had caused the person's asthma to worsen.
As a result, Merritt wrote on the patient's chart the words "climate change".
“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,” Merritt told Glacier Media.
“It's me trying to just... process what I'm seeing. We're in the emergency department, we look after everybody, from the most privileged to the most vulnerable, from cradle to grave, we see everybody.
"It's hard to see people, especially the most vulnerable people in our society, being affected. It's frustrating.”
On account of their experiences in the region during the heatwave, Merritt and other doctors throughout British Columbia came together to launch Doctors and Nurses for Planetary Health, a group working to better human health by protecting the planet.
You can read Merritt's interview with Times Colonist in full here.