Government and health sector leadership on climate change needed

Australian Medical Association

On Tuesday 9 August the AMA and Doctors for the Environment (DEA) held a webinar Climate change and sustainability: leadership and action from Australian doctors with eleven medical colleges joining with the AMA and DEA to issue a communique calling for more leadership from Government and the health care sector and greater action on climate change..

The webinar was a success with over 300 attendees, including the Chief Medical Officer Prof Paul Kelly. Federal Minister for Health and Aged Care the Hon Mark Butler MP told the webinar audience he is committed to pursuing a climate and health policy and better connecting the two. Laureate Prof Nicholas Talley outlined the duty medical professionals have in treating climate change as a global health emergency, and Prof Alexandra Barratt highlighted the carbon footprint of low value care.

Eleven medical colleges provided updates on the climate action they are taking, and highlighted specific climate change health impacts related to their specialty. Dr Eugenie Kayak from the DEA urged doctors to take greater action in their specialty. Dr Kate Charlesworth provided a summary of all webinar presentations and highlighted three responsibilities for the healthcare sector moving forward: advocacy, mitigating the healthcare sector’s carbon footprint, and adaptation.

Prof Robson wrapped up the webinar saying “as a profession we have a responsibility to bequeath a healthy planet to our children and their children”.

The 11 presenting medical colleges signed on to a communique reflecting the acknowledgement of the extreme risk posed by climate change both to global health and to the health of all Australians, and their duty of care to act urgently. Signatories to this communique support:

  1. A net zero Australian healthcare system by 2040 with majority of emission cuts by 2030. 

  1. The development of a national climate change and health strategy to facilitate planning for climate health impacts, which the federal government has committed to. 

  1. Establishing a National Sustainable Healthcare Unit to support environmentally sustainable practice in healthcare and reduce the sector’s own emissions. 

  1. Education of current and future doctors to: 

  1. be well equipped to care for patients and populations impacted by the adverse health effects of climate change, and 

  1. provide sustainable health care to support sector-wide emissions reduction. 

  1. Collaboration on climate change mitigation strategies with populations most at risk of climate-related adverse health impacts, such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.  

You can access the webinar here.

/AMA/AusMed News. This material from the originating organization/author(s) may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. The views and opinions expressed are those of the author(s).