Environmental Health Promotion in Nursing Essay
Environmental Health Promotion in Nursing Essay
In the 21st century, the issues of environmental health and the health effects of environmental climate change became a pressing matter for the international health community. Climate change, natural and human-made disasters, as well as the pollution of water, earth, food, and air has the potential of dramatically increasing morbidity of the diseases and significantly reducing the quality of human life. The primary role of a nurse is the promotion of individual and community health, which is why the nursing community must tackle the issues connected with the environment through education, research, direct action, and advocacy.Environmental Health Promotion in Nursing Essay
The 20th and 21st centuries heralded the beginning of the Anthropocene era – an era, where major climate changes, environmental incidents, and major catastrophes are caused by human actions and involvement (Patton, 2017). Due to the highly industrious nature of humankind, the landscapes of planet Earth have changed dramatically. In the 21st century, humanity is faced with all kinds of ecological and environmental challenges – from pollution and intoxication of air, land, and water, to global warming, the thinning of the ozone layer, and the changes in the Gulf Stream. These events, along with many other small-scale environmental issues and changes, pose additional challenges to healthcare systems around the world. The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the role of the nurse in the community and global healthcare and determine ways of promoting environmental health and reducing ecological barriers.Environmental Health Promotion in Nursing Essay
One of the primary goals set for leading healthcare organizations by the UN was to reduce poverty, illiteracy, discrimination by race and gender, malnutrition, infant and maternal mortality, as well major infections around the world (Nieuwenhuijsen, 2015). These goals cannot be accomplished without the creation of environmental stability. Poverty will remain a prominent issue in locations where environmental degradation causes the spread of diseases, induces malnutrition, and increases the chances of death and injury. Without actions to promote a safer environment, the goals of achieving soil fertility, climatic stability, freshwater supplies, and ecological supports are doomed to failure. Infectious diseases continue to spread the most in locations rife with climatic and environmental instability, impoverishment, and refugee flows.
A mounting body of academic evidence suggests that many human beings around the world are already overwhelmed with an incredible amount of dangerous chemicals found in water, food, air, and even in healthcare settings. Some studies indicate that certain chemicals can affect unborn children ("Environmental health," 2018).Environmental Health Promotion in Nursing Essay
The role that nurses are currently playing in promoting environmental health is surprisingly limited, considering it is one of their core duties. The responsibility of the nurse to ensure a healing environment for the patient is illustrated in all major nursing frameworks, starting with Nightingale's theory of care. At the same time, the nursing community at large has been preoccupied with efforts to relieve various vulnerable groups of populations, which left the effort to promote ecological security to other forces and organizations. In the last 30 years, the American nursing association provided only three major contributions to the overall environmental health and protection effort, which include the Reduction of Health Care Production of Toxic Pollution report, the Hospitals for a Healthy Environment program, and the Inappropriate Use of Antimicrobials in Agriculture resolution (Patton, 2017). With the environmental challenges escalating across the globe, nurses are required to take a proactive position and come up with viable propositions and solutions to reduce the effects of negative environmental factors on human wellbeing.Environmental Health Promotion in Nursing Essay
Environment Factors that Impact Health
Healthy People 2020 outlines five environmental factors that have the most impact on individual and community health. These factors are as follows ("Environmental health," 2018):
Presence and exposure to hazardous substances found in drinking water, air, soil, and consumables. These substances, as well as the prolonged exposure to them, may result in poisoning, cancer, and the development of chronic or long-term diseases. Substances found in food and water typically affect the digestive system, whereas those in the air affect the lungs, blood, and the breathing tract. Chemicals found in the soil typically do not affect the body directly. Instead, they affect the crops, causing malnourishment and, in extreme cases, translating into food poisonings ("Environmental health," 2018).
Natural and technological disasters. Small-scale and large-scale disasters have the potential of disrupting the ecological balance and cause massive degradation of community healthcare. Typically, disasters are followed by epidemics, food and water shortages, and numerous instances of injury and disease, which increases the strain on healthcare organizations conducting the relief effort (Nieuwenhuijsen, 2015).
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Climate change. The change of traditional climate patterns is associated with great healthcare risks. Communities built in the realities of one climatological pattern are frequently unprepared for sudden and often destructive changes in the local climate. Some of the examples of unusual climate patterns include the hot summers, overly-snowy winters, and the increasing frequency of hurricanes in the past several years (Nieuwenhuijsen, 2015).Environmental Health Promotion in Nursing Essay
Occupational hazards. Unsafe environment breeds occupational hazards that endanger not only the lives of the employees, but the communities as a whole. High levels of occupational hazards are associated with the risk of death or injury, increased number of orphans and children raised by a single parent, as well as the overall environmental degradation of the community. This could be seen in cities and settlements built around major industrial complexes (Nieuwenhuijsen, 2015).
The built environment and infrastructure. Features of the environment created by humans can influence the environment in many ways. Measures were taken to improve the ecological situations typically contribute to improvements in air and water cleanliness, as well as the healthcare situation in any given community, while a limited approach to ecological safety is associated with long-term degradation, infant mortality, and reduced average lifetimes (Jackson, Dannenberg, & Frumkin, 2013).
While many other factors can affect the life of the community on large and small scales, these are the five primary factors that constitute the biggest concerns in terms of environmental health. The majority of nursing environmental healthcare initiatives are to be focused on dealing with these issues.Environmental Health Promotion in Nursing Essay
My Role as a Nurse in Eliminating Environmental Barriers to Health
A nurse is a primary agent of healthcare and can promote environmental health and eliminate barriers in four major ways. Any healthcare worker can contribute to the relief effort through the prevention of environmental damage, advocacy, and promotion of environmental agendas, direct action, and scientific research (Nieuwenhuijsen, 2015).
Prevention of environmental health hazards can be achieved by educating the population of the community on potential threats to individual and group health posed by various actions and enterprises (Nieuwenhuijsen, 2015). Also, a nurse could provide knowledge and instructions on reducing the impact of environmental hazards in the areas already in crisis. For example, in areas with contaminated water, a nurse can educate the population on how to properly sterilize it as well as distribute water sterilization kits.Environmental Health Promotion in Nursing Essay
Advocacy and promotion of environmental agendas is a public duty of any nurse (Patton, 2017). By joining a nursing association, a nurse could add her voice to the cause. Together, many nurses, doctors, and healthcare workers can form a political force capable of causing change on a national scale. One of the major associations of nurses in the USA is ANA, which supports legislative efforts aimed at reducing environmental risks to community healthcare.
Direct action is a sworn duty of any nurse. In the event of an environmental or technological outbreak, the nurse must do everything in her power to minimize the impact on the community and prevent lives from being lost. One example of such action is the relief effort of many hospitals in Florida, in the aftermath of the destruction caused by the latest hurricane. Some of the duties performed by nurses and Red Cross volunteers involved the liquidation of ruins and materials potentially dangerous to human health.
Environmental research is an important way of helping promote a healthy way of life. No course of action is possible until solid knowledge and understanding of the underlying processes are obtained. Nurse research is often used to promote and justify various legislative efforts to improve environmental health. As a nurse, I would be capable of researching various environment-related problems, such as disease outbreaks, water pollution, and others, to find potential solutions.Environmental Health Promotion in Nursing Essay
Environmental health remains one of the most important and paramount issues for modern healthcare, which receives surprisingly little attention from the nursing community. Nurses must reinvigorate their efforts and promote various measures of environmental precautions and safety to prevent large disasters and long-lasting healthcare detriments in the form of pollution. Preventing a disaster is much easier than dealing with the aftermath of a disaster. To reduce the negative impact of human-made and natural environmental cataclysms, all nurses must promote environmental health through direct actions, preventive actions, advocacy, and research.
Environmental health. (2018). Web.
Jackson, R., Dannenberg, A., & Frumkin, H. (2013). Health and the built environment: 10 years after. American Journal of Public Health, 103(9), 1542-1544.
Nieuwenhuijsen, M. J. (2015). Exposure assessment in environmental epidemiology (2nd ed.). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. Environmental Health Promotion in Nursing Essay