News & Media Event MEDIA ALERT: Doctors talk health and the environment at NSW Parliament

MEDIA ALERT: Doctors talk health and the environment at NSW Parliament

MEDIA ALERT: Doctors talk health and the environment at NSW Parliament

Monday, June 19, 2023

What: Doctors for the Environment Australia will host its Healthy State, Healthy People forum for NSW MPs 
When: Tuesday, June 20. 5pm for a 5.30pm start 
Where: Jubilee Room, NSW Parliament House 
Who: Dr Ben Ewald, Dr Emma Skowronski, Dr Fiona Foo, Dr Anthony Hull 
Register your attendance HERE 

Doctors will call on NSW politicians to do more to protect the health of their constituents at a forum in Parliament House on Tuesday. 

NSW members of Doctors for the Environment Australia will present to MPs about the need for policies that protect the health of people in NSW while also protecting the environment. 

Media is invited to attend the forum. Presentations will include: 

HOW POLLUTION FROM GAS STOVES IN THE HOME IS MAKING OUR CHILDREN SICK 

Dr Ben Ewald will be calling for NSW to ban gas connections to new dwellings by 2024 and to increase funding to support the electrification of homes. 

Australian researchers estimate that 12% of childhood asthma is due to exposure to gas combustion products from kitchen stoves. 

“The conventional gas kitchen stove releases nitrogen dioxide which is a health risk for anyone with asthma. My patients with asthma have been interested to learn about this, and I’m looking forward to discussing the issue with NSW members of parliament. In the short term there are ways to minimise exposure and in the longer term there are good health-based reasons for phasing out gas use in homes,” says Dr Ewald. 

NATIVE FORESTS ARE GOOD FOR US-AND THE PLANET 

Dr Emma Skowronski is calling for no new clearing of native forests from 2024. 

“Native forests are precious,” says Dr Skowronski. “They are carbon sinks, air filters, biodiversity hubs and places of peace and restoration for people.

“Human health is directly related to the health of the planet. As we encroach on beautiful, natural places like forests, we perpetuate climate change, promote zoonotic diseases like Zika and Covid-19, heat our suburbs and put our clean water sources at risk. People are suffering and dying. This is not a distant problem, it’s a disaster unfolding in the here and now. I feel obligated to raise awareness about this for my patients, community, and my children. We are just not doing enough to secure their future.” 

THE NSW HEALTH SECTOR NEEDS TO GET ITS HOUSE IN ORDER ON EMISSIONS 

Dr Fiona Foo and Dr Anthony Hull (Anaesthetics clinical lead with the NSW Net Zero Programme) will call for more rapid and systematic emissions reductions across NSW Health, and emphasise the importance of national coordination and prioritisation.

The call comes as the federal Department of Health and Aged Care is looking for feedback on its National Health and Climate Strategy. 

“A warmer world is a sicker world,” says Dr Foo. “Climate change increases heart and lung disease and deaths, malignancies, mental health, and infectious diseases, to name a few. The effects of climate change will further increase demand for healthcare services. Ironically, the healthcare sector is a major contributor to the problem. In NSW, the healthcare sector is responsible for 6.6% of greenhouse gases, 4% of water use, and 8% of waste. NSW health is already leading the way with its Net Zero program.” 

Media contact 

Carmela Ferraro, Media and Communications Lead, 0410 703 074