Government and health sector leadership on climate change is needed

On Tuesday, August 9, the AMA and Doctors for the Environment (DEA) hosted a webinar Climate Change and Sustainability: Australian Physician Leadership and Action with eleven medical schools joining the AMA and DEA in issuing a statement calling for more leadership from government and the healthcare sector and increased action on climate change.

The webinar was a success with over 300 attendees including Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly. The Federal Minister for Health and Aged Care, the Hon Mark Butler MP, told the webinar audience that he is committed to pursuing climate and health policy and to better linking the two . The winner, Professor Nicholas Talley, highlighted the duty of healthcare professionals to treat climate change as a global health emergency, and Professor Alexandra Barratt highlighted the carbon footprint of low-value care.

Eleven medical schools provided updates on the climate actions they are taking and highlighted the specific health impacts of climate change related to their specialty. The DEA’s Dr. Eugenie Kayak urged doctors to do more in their specialty. Dr. Kate Charlesworth provided a summary of all the webinar presentations and highlighted three responsibilities for the health sector going forward: advocacy, mitigating the carbon footprint of the health sector, and adaptation.

Professor Robson concluded the webinar by saying “as a profession we have a responsibility to bequeath a healthy planet to our children and their children”.

The 11 medical schools present signed a statement reflecting recognition of the extreme risk posed by climate change to both global health and the health of all Australians, and their duty of care to act urgently. The signatories of this press release support:

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

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

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

  1. Training of current and future physicians for:

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

  1. provide sustainable healthcare to support sector-wide emissions reductions.

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

You can access the webinar here.

/AMA/AusMed News. This material from the original organization/authors may be ad hoc in nature, edited for clarity, style and length. The views and opinions expressed are those of the authors.

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