Apr 04, 2008 - 11:12am
Australian doctors have warned of a growing incidence of climate
change-related illness by 2020– and that the elderly and children will
be among the hardest hit.
The report, titled Climate Change Health
Check 2020, summarizes latest research on climate and health. It was
prepared for The Climate Institute by Doctors for the Environment
The report was endorsed by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners.
report was launched on the eve of the World Health Organisation’s World
Health Day on 7 April, which has the theme “protecting health from
The report says that improved health strategies
would be required to reduce the disastrous impacts of climate change –
including a growing incidence of heat stress, heat related illness,
trauma from extreme weather changes and infectious diseases.
change is already a reality in our waiting rooms and surgeries – and is
set to become a key challenge for our health system over the coming
decade,” report co-author Dr Graeme Horton, a Newcastle-based GP said
“Clearly, climate change will place our health system under
increasing stress – and as always the elderly, children and the
vulnerable will be hardest hit.
“The greatest impact will be in
rural, regional, remote and indigenous communities, who will face more
climatic extremes and problems with food and freshwater supplies,” Dr
Some of the health impacts described in the report include:
- Increased incidence of heat stress and heat-related illness – including those affecting the heart, blood vessels and lungs;
allergic diseases, gastroenteritis (food poisoning) and
mosquito-transmitted diseases such as Dengue fever and Ross River virus;
- Increased trauma from extreme weather events like drought and natural disasters;
- Spiraling demand for aid from our neighbours to care for environmental refugees and dislocated communities;
Grant Blashki, of the University of Melbourne Department of General
Practice, said that health care needed to be responsive to the health
needs of the community and planning for climate change should be part of
every future deliberation.
“Effective health strategies will
require strong collaboration between Government, health professionals
and the community sector,” Dr Blashki said.
workforce planning will need to take account of a climate change impacts
in areas such as disaster preparedness, monitoring of infectious
diseases and supporting communities affected by long term drought,” Dr
Dr Vasantha Preetham, President of the Royal College of GPs endorsed the report.
“GPs are becoming increasingly concerned about potential health impacts of climate change,” Dr Preetham said.
profession will be on the frontline of managing any impacts. We are
keen to work with our patients and others in the community to raise
awareness and work towards solutions,” Dr Vasantha Preetham said.
Dr Rosanna Capolingua, President of the Australian Medical Association, has also welcomed the report.
Climate Change Health Check 2020 report highlights that human health is
ultimately dependent on the health of the planet,” Dr Capolingua said.
change will have potentially serious impacts on health systems around
the world. This report reinforces the AMA’s view that the Australian
health system needs to be fully prepared for these impacts now,” Dr
More information on World Health Day can be found on the web site, http://www.who.int/world-health-day