• ECHO Action Editor

Health Care Without Harm praises American Medical Association divestment decision

Health Care Without Harm congratulates the American Medical Association (AMA) on their recent commitment to divest their financial holdings from toxic fossil fuels.

AMA’s House of Delegates’ adoption of a resolution “to end all financial investments or relationships (divestment) with companies that generate the majority of their income from the exploration for, production of, transportation of, or sale of fossil fuels” is a critical step toward ensuring health care providers first do no harm.

“It is meaningful that the American Medical saying to the dirty fuels industry now just what it said to tobacco a generation ago: You are killing our patients and we will not allow it anymore,” noted Todd Sack, MD, co-author of the divestment resolution.

From extraction to combustion, fossil fuels pose a direct threat to the health of our communities. The air pollution from fossil fuels alone causes 200,000 premature deaths each year in the United States, and the closing of coal-fired power plants has been shown to generate immediate health improvements. Carbon pollution from fossil fuels is also the leading cause of climate change, contributing to more intense and more frequent storms, growing vector-borne diseases and heat-related illnesses, as well as increased food and water scarcity. Health professionals have a moral obligation not to benefit financially from an industry that endangers human health.

By choosing not to invest in companies that profit from pollution, members of the American Medical Association are fulfilling their responsibility to protect the health of their patients and communities.

AMA’s decision to divest also sends a strong message to all health professionals and medical societies that, just as the health sector divested from tobacco as a matter of professional ethics, the time has come to end all investments in harmful fossil fuels.

Peter Orris, MD, Health Care Without Harm senior advisor, stated, “With the AMA joining the British Medical Association, Canadian Medical Association, and the World Medical Association in this action, we can now securely bring this unified message to health organizations, policymakers, and civic society in general throughout the world.”

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