Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA) welcomes the statements made by Shadow Minister for Health Chris Bowen that Australia needs to develop policies and structures to prepare for the health impacts of climate change. As Mr Bowen states in a Guardian article, “…despite the fact we [Australia] are more exposed than most, and our medical community is increasingly vocal on the issue, from Doctors for the Environment, to the Australian Medical Association, which recently declared climate change to be a health emergency”, we have no national strategy.
DEA’s Honorary Secretary Dr Richard Yin says, “The health profession has long advocated for the need to act on climate change to protect the health of Australians.
“In September, the Australian Medical Association (AMA) declared climate change a health emergency joining DEA the British and American Medical Associations who have made earlier declarations.
“Only recently, a report from the Medical Journal of Australia in conjunction with the prestigious international journal, The Lancet, highlighted how under-prepared Australia is to meet with climate change health impacts.
“These include bushfire exposure, adverse weather events, heat, changes in labour capacity, climate-sensitive infectious diseases and mental health impacts.
“The United Kingdom has had a Climate Change Act for over 10 years and has been making assessments of climate change health impacts regularly.
“Despite being a country most prone to climate change impacts, Australia does not have a climate change and health strategy and there has been minimal funding for research into this area.
“The government needs to listen to the medical community and prepare the country to meet with the unavoidable health impacts of climate change. The bushfires in NSW and Queensland highlight the need early planning if we are to avoid disastrous consequences,” says Dr Yin.
Mr Bowen in a media statement called for the Morrison Government to recognise climate change as a health emergency.