Student

Punit Matta (MED’23)

Co-leader of the BUMC Climate Action Group | Specialties: Public Health, Environmental Justice, Climate Change, Zero Waste

Medical Student Passionate about Environmental Health

Environmental issues are a key part of the patient history and a consideration for treatment, whether it's toxins or allergens in the environment, poor climate control in dwellings, and broadly, of course, the destabilizing effect climate change will have on general infrastructures, including healthcare's.

About

I grew up in New Hampshire, studied classical languages and neuroscience in college, and spent several years working in emergency medicine before coming to medical school.

I would like my career to be aimed at figuring out how to bridge gaps between medical science and the multiplicity of human life. How do we make sure medical care is affordable and directed precisely to those who need it most? How do we locate and eliminate disparities perpetuated by science which, although very useful, is nevertheless subject to the same social contexts that shape societies?

We learn a lot about social determinants of health in medical school. Climate issues are heavily intersectional with all of these and more besides, and my growing understanding of climate and sustainability has allowed me to think more critically and clearly about the patient's living environment and social context, which is an extremely valuable skill. Climate change, after all, affects food production, the spread and prevalence of disease, and the built environment we live in, to name just a few factors affecting health.

More broadly, climate change is driving migration from areas that are being hit by extreme weather or even shortages of water and food; migration which brings with it associated traumas, potential injuries, and general displacement.

Healthcare workers, and especially physicians in their role as a healthcare coordinator, can make a meaningful difference in people's lives, whether it's writing a letter to justify why a landlord needs to repair a dwelling all the way to helping people carve out a home for themselves that is safe and supportive.

In my spare time, I like to run outside and bake bread.

BU Highlights

As coleader of the Climate Action Group, I've been part of several initiatives:

  • Working with Chequers Cafe to enhance compost practices and reduce the use of plastic water bottles at campus events.
  • With support from the Sustainability Innovation Seed Grant program, we are working to develop COVID-19 educational materials and hygiene stations. The idea arose organically from one of our leaders and we are currently working through the logistics of this in partnership with BUMC Facilities as well as the student governments of three schools on the medical campus (MED, SPH, GMS).
  • Deepening our connections with community organizations and activists in the hope of forging a long-term continuity between the rotating membership of the CAG and the ongoing efforts outside of the school to pursue climate justice.

@Anthro_Med

Related Projects

Sustainability Innovation Seed Grant

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