The negative effects of climate change on our planet affect us all each day. Unfortunately, the effects on vulnerable populations are exacerbated. This is exactly what
World Humanitarian Day 2022 (WHD) aims to change, specifically through climate mitigation and adaptation in developing countries.
In recognition of this important United Nations General Assembly event, we spoke with Sean Hesler, ND, Executive Director of Naturopaths Without Borders (NWB), about his organization’s first-hand experience assisting the vulnerable populations most heavily affected by climate change.
What is Naturopaths Without Borders?
NWB is an international non-governmental organization that empowers low-resource communities through education, sustainable resources, and naturopathic healthcare. (1)
“ to bridge the health equity gap worldwide through a compassionate model of care extending far beyond one-on-one consultations.” — Sean Hesler, ND
What is World Humanitarian Day?
WHD commemorates the 2003 bomb attack on the Canal Hotel in Baghdad, Iraq. It was formalized by the United Nations General Assembly in 2009 in an effort to advocate for aid workers and people affected by humanitarian crises.
World Humanitarian Day 2022 theme
This year’s WHD theme highlights the immediate effects of the climate crisis on the world’s most vulnerable people. The United Nations has created a campaign, #TheHumanRace, which is a global challenge for climate action in solidarity with climate-vulnerable people. (2)
Seeing the direct effects of climate change
While working in different parts of the world, NWB has witnessed the immediate consequences of the climate emergency for the world’s most vulnerable people.
In a real-world example of particular concern, Dr. Hesler noted the historic drought happening in Haiti. Its impact has been substantial, causing malnutrition and economic misery in the most food-insecure country in the Western Hemisphere.
The drought is also making it difficult for Haitian farmers to make a living and provide enough food, increasing Haitian reliance on imports and creating a vicious cycle.
Understanding today’s global health concerns
Dr. Hesler deems “massive structural violence,” social forces preventing people from meeting their basic needs, as one of the main challenges we must overcome. (3) Part of NWB’s work includes finding solutions to the root cause of some health concerns. At an environmental level, this includes educating their patients and extended communities about healthier and more sustainable food choices and gardening.
Delivering equitable healthcare to those in need
Through their team of community health and humanitarian workers, by training local health providers, and by engaging in volunteer work, NWB works to improve access to integrative care to low-resource communities around the world, including within the United States.
As an example, Dr. Hesler said, “our full-time naturopathic doctors and community health workers in Haiti work to educate and care for those most in need—sometimes through professional training, and sometimes through direct education and direct care.”
Supporting health equity and NWB
When asked how those interested can help support the world health and humanitarian efforts of NWB, Dr. Hesler noted that “financial support and volunteering are the highest-impact ways to help .”
Health equity is a byproduct of positive change at all levels of society. Those with the time and means can help by directly working to change the systems creating health inequity. As Dr. Hesler put it, “it’s important that we ‘do what we can,’ but to imagine a world where we can accomplish exponentially more by working together!”
Reducing the effects of climate change
Many vulnerable populations are those who have contributed least to the global climate emergency, yet they are hit the hardest. The efforts of World Humanitarian Day, humanitarian workers, and NWB are important to help our community on a global scale.
“Individual change is necessary among those of us with choice and agency, but more important is that we work to change, through economic and political systems, the massive structural issues which far outweigh our individual environmental impacts.” — Sean Hesler, ND
The bottom line
Climate change requires collective action and is a critical component of World Humanitarian Day. The time to come together to take better care of our planet is now.
At Fullscript, we’re committed to supporting aid and health workers of organizations like NWB, who give humanitarian assistance to vulnerable communities. In an additional effort to help do our part, we’re also a certified carbon-neutral organization.
Learn more about Fullscript’s commitment to climate change here.
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- Naturopaths Without Borders. (2022, May 13). Naturopaths Without Borders. https://www.nwb.ngo/
- United Nations. (n.d.). World Humanitarian Day. https://www.un.org/en/observances/humanitarian-day
- Wiley Online Library. (2019). Structural violence, 123–142. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/9781119240716.ch7