CONFERENCE BY AFMC, PUNE BRINGS CLIMATE CHANGE AND ENVIRONMENTAL SUSCEPTIBILITY TO FOREFRONT 

CONFERENCE BY AFMC, PUNE BRINGS CLIMATE CHANGE AND ENVIRONMENTAL SUSCEPTIBILITY TO FOREFRONT 

CONFERENCE BY AFMC, PUNE BRINGS CLIMATE CHANGE AND ENVIRONMENTAL SUSCEPTIBILITY TO FOREFRONT 

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The Department of Community Medicine at AFMC, Pune under the aegis of Director General Armed Forces Medical Services successfully organized the Inter Command CME- “The Armed Forces Conference on Climate Change and Environmental Susceptibility: The Public Health Perspective” from 13-15 June 2024. This landmark event drew more than 300 attendees, comprising of faculty members, postgraduates and undergraduates from diverse disciplines and institutions across India.

In the three day conference, Dr Roderico Hofrin, WHO Representative to India and Dr Atul Goel, Director General Health Services, MoHFW, GoI, with their vast experiences in public health gave the august gathering an insight into the international and national efforts being undertaken to mitigate the impact of climate change. Maj Gen Atul Kotwal SM, VSM (Retd), Executive Director of NHSRC, one of the leading bodies on public health reforms, delivered the inaugural address by emphasising the need to change perspective and acknowledge the effects of climate change. Senior Armed Forces Officers including Lt Gen Arindam Chatterjee, AVSM, VSM, Director General Medical Services (Army)& Col Comdt AMC released the conference proceedings and chaired the plenary session on Managing Disasters: Response &Mitigation. Air Mshl Rajesh Vaidya, VSM, Director General Medical Services (Air), the seniormost Community Medicine Specialist in the Indian Armed Forces delivered the key note address during the inaugural session.  On June 13, 2024, the former Heads of Department of the Department of Community Medicine at Armed Forces Medical College (AFMC) were honoured at a sublime ceremony. Their steadfast commitment and visionary leadership have guided the department’s journey towards excellence in public health.

On the second and third day, the academia delved deeper into the nuances of tackling climate change, focusing on the concepts of sustainability, climate resilient systems, and understanding and assessing the impact of climate change. The sessions also featured a presentation by Dr Dahar Mohammad, on real-life experiences of implementing climate-smart interventions at the primary health care level, and a talk by Brig Rajul Gupta (Retd) on the future food security challenges posed by climate change. One of the key events was a panel discussion on Public Health Interventions to Address the Impact of Climate Change on Population Health: Are we doing enough?” which included luminaries from the field of public health such as Lt Gen AK Jindal, PVSM, AVSM, YSM (Retd), Executive Director & CEO, AIIMS, Raipur,  Dr K Madan Gopal, NHSRC, Col Amitav Banerjee (Retd), Dr Harshal Salve, secretary CAPHER-India, AIIMS, New Delhi and Dr Ravindra Khaiwal, PGIMER, Chandigarh.

The conference featured an array of highly popular workshops which attracted great enthusiasm among post graduate students and was oversubscribed. These sessions were designed to familiarize attendees with cutting-edge topics that are gaining prominence in the field of public health. The workshops covered innovative subjects such as Integrated Vector Management for controlling vector borne diseases, ensuring food safety in a changing climate, basic research methodology techniques and handling of biomedical waste which was conducted by Mr Manjit Singh Saluja from WHO, India. These well-attended sessions not only educated participants but also sparked interest in these emerging areas critical to public health in the era of climate change.

The conference featured a variety of competitive events that drew enthusiastic participation from attendees. One of the highlights was “Ideas and Innovations: The Think Tanks” a competition designed to generate innovative solutions for combating and mitigating the effects of climate change. This event encouraged participants to think creatively about one of the most pressing issues of our time. Additionally, there were competitions for the best poster and oral presentations, focusing on various themes related to climate change. These competitions attracted a large number of postgraduate students from across the country. The grand finale of the conference was PG quiz competition. After a series of challenging rounds that tested the participants’ knowledge of climate change and its health impacts, the team from Seth GS Medical College and KEM Hospital won the competition.

With climate change becoming an inevitable reality, the conference was received with much praise for giving shape to dormant ideas and igniting thought amongst all health professionals towards a collective public health response. Brig VK Bhatti, Organising Chairman, expressed his sincere gratitude to all the participants, Maj Gen Giriraj Singh Dean & Offg Director, and the Director General Armed Forces Medical Services for their support in making the event a success. 

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