How in the World Are People Doing?

Omnia El Omrani interview

Journalist and podcaster Rachel Donald (Planet: Critical) interviews Dr. Omnia El Omrani, a medical doctor and Climate and Health Policy Fellow at Imperial College London. This interview is part of a Resilience+ Deep Dive on Building Emotional Resilience, which is designed to help you understand the foundations of emotional resilience and learn skills that can help you navigate the tumultuous times to come.

Omnia explains the intersection of health and climate change, including her experience in treating patients for acute and chronic conditions that arose from an extreme weather event, as well as the mental health impacts that accrue from anxiety and the stresses from heat waves. She discusses her experience in bringing health issues and intergenerational injustice to the United Nations climate conferences, including adopting a Health Day at the conference that includes exposing high-level health ministers to knowledge about how to respond to climate-related disasters and how to improve human health by improving air quality through less burning of fossil fuels and restoration of natural ecosystems. As a systems thinker, Omnia also considers the challenge of how to break down silos among health and climate change experts and how to turn a vicious cycle into a virtuous cycle.

Rachel and Omnia also consider the people who have the most health-oriented vulnerability to heat events and other climate-change-related risks. Omnia offers ideas about how you can adapt, including stepping back and considering how you can process your emotions and distress, talking with others to gain a sense of community, and learning from what other people and organizations are doing to build resilience as temperatures climb.

Here’s a brief exchange:

Rachel: You begin to see the Earth as an extension of your own body, or your body as an extension of the Earth, so any attack on the Earth becomes an attack on your own wellbeing, your own potential, future generations as well. We’re all part of the same organic matter. We need to look after one another; you cannot just look after oneself.

Omnia: Yeah, I completely agree, and I was just at an event last week. One of the moderators said an amazing thing: “I am, because you are.” [The context] was around social justice responsibility, and I think that doesn’t just apply to us as individuals. It also applies to nature, because if we are healthy, it is because the air we are breathing is clean, because we have access to food and safe drinking water, and this is enabling us also to get the income and education and access to the services we need. But we cannot do that without these determinants of health, and more importantly, the environmental determinants of health. And this is why we need to center that at the heart of what we are doing for us right now and for the future.


Dr. Omnia El Omrani is an Egyptian physician and Climate and Health Policy Fellow at Imperial College London. She was the first official Youth Envoy for the UN Climate Summit and subsequently served as a Health Envoy for the Summit. Omnia also serves as the co-lead of the Equity Group of the Lancet Commission on Prevention of Viral Spillover and serves on two other Lancet Commissions on Sustainable Healthcare and Global Governance on Health. Fast Company Middle East recognized her as one of the 35 Most Creative People in Business in 2023. Omnia has more than 8 years of experience working on climate change and health and has published 24 research papers and delivered over 120 hours of climate training in 15 countries.

Image credit: Global Governance Project