Opinion Paper

Planetary health and environmental sustainability in African health professions education

James H. Irlam, Charlotte Scheerens, Bob Mash
African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine | Vol 15, No 1 | a3925 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/phcfm.v15i1.3925 | © 2023 James H. Irlam, Charlotte Scheerens, Bob Mash | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 24 November 2022 | Published: 21 February 2023

About the author(s)

James H. Irlam, Department of Family, Community and Emergency Care, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
Charlotte Scheerens, Department of Public Health and Primary Care, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ghent, Ghent, Belgium; and Department of Economics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ghent, Ghent, Belgium
Bob Mash, Department of Family and Emergency Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa


CliMigHealth and the Education for Sustainable Healthcare (ESH) Special Interest Group of the Southern African Association of Health Educationalists (SAAHE) call for the urgent integration of planetary health (PH) and environmental sustainability into health professions curricula in Africa. Education on PH and sustainable healthcare develops much-needed health worker agency to address the connections between healthcare and PH. Faculties are urged to develop their own ‘net zero’ plans and to advocate for national and sub-national policies and practices that promote the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and PH. National education bodies and health professional societies are urged to incentivise innovation in ESH and to provide discussion forums and resources to support the integration of PH into curricula.

Contribution: This article provides a position statement for integrating planetary health and environmental sustainability into African health professions education curricula.


planetary health; sustainable healthcare; health professions education; environmental sustainability, climate change.


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Crossref Citations

1. The ‘just transition’ and health in South Africa
James Irlam, Rico Euripidou, Mafoko Phomane, Azeeza Rangunwala
South African Health Review  vol: 25  year: 2023  
doi: 10.61473/001c.75137