As part of uOttawa’s expanded efforts in social accountability and commitment to creating a sustainable future, the Faculty of Medicine has appointed Dr. Husein Moloo as Director of Planetary Health; such a new position and portfolio being a first nationwide.
The appointment of Dr. Moloo as the maiden Director of Planetary Health is part of the Faculty’s contribution to the University’s Transformation 2030 pledge to promote use of greener practices and activities on campus, and beyond. The appointment of Dr. Moloo – an Associate Professor of Surgery at the Faculty of Medicine – comes at a time when the World Health Organization has declared the climate crisis as the largest public health emergency.
“With the current climate crisis, we need everyone pulling in the same direction,” says Dr. Moloo, who has led Quality Improvement and Patient Safety for the Department of Surgery at the Ottawa Hospital. “There still isn’t a realization that healthcare contributes substantive amounts of greenhouse gases and strategies are needed to address this quickly. If you take healthcare as its own global entity, it would rank as the fifth highest country in terms of emissions.”
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Dr. Moloo’s mandate will see him usher in initiatives and best practices across the Faculty of Medicine, with an eye to extending them to the University’s partner institutions. Initial priorities will look at decreasing the Faculty and its partner’s footprint; researching the effects of healthcare on the environment and on the impact of climate change on human health; and building an educational curriculum around it. Ottawa is committed to becoming a zero-carbon campus by 2040 and a zero-waste campus by 2050.
The impact of climate change on health is well known but greater knowledge and policy change are required to mitigate the detrimental effects.
“Environmental cost and social accountability are important focus areas, so we need to create a change in culture that looks beyond economic costs,” says Dr. Moloo, who is also a clinical investigator in epidemiology at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute (OHRI).
“Wouldn’t it be fantastic if Planetary Health was one of the main things included longitudinally within the curriculum? We are educating future medical professionals and scientists so we need to seize this opportunity to empower our learners if progress is going to be made.”
Creating a green network
Dr. Moloo expects this announcement to create stronger ties and collaboration with other environmentally ambitious academic institutions from across Canada and around the world.