The world's first health and climate framework policy initiative has been in development for over a year with a large degree of consultation with health professionals. It is endorsed by more than 30 medical and health professional organisations around Australia.
Minister for Aged Care and Minister for Indigenous Health Ken Wyatt MP, Greens Leader and health spokesperson Senator Richard Di Natale and Labor's Christine King MP all attended and spoke at the launch and roundtable discussion afterwards.
The Framework entails seven Areas of Policy Action, including the phasing out coal, greening hospitals, and a coordinated approach to managing the health consequences of extreme weather events, such as heat stress and thunderstorm asthma.
The framework implementation of a national strategy will require federal, state/territory and local government actions, and cross-portfolio cooperation, involving health, energy and climate/environment portfolios working together.
The Framework is designed to support Australia in reporting against a set of global climate and health indicators, published in the leading international medical journal, The Lancet. A comparative analysis and report each year will be published on the progress of nations in addressing the health impacts of climate change. The first report is due in November 2017.
Executive Director at Lancet Countdown: Tracking Progress on Health and Climate Change, Dr Nick Watts commented: “This policy framework provides a coordinated and comprehensive approach to supporting Australia to meet its commitments under the Paris Agreement. The implementation of a national strategy on climate change and health could put Australia in a leadership position globally and go a long way to ensuring the protection of community health and well-being while reducing carbon emissions.”
Some good and bad news before the start:
Executive Director of the Climate and Health Alliance Fiona Armstrong said:
“The Framework provides a comprehensive roadmap to assist Australia in addressing the significant risks that climate change poses to the health and well-being of the community, and in meeting its obligations to citizen’s ‘right to health’ under the Paris Agreement."
President of Health Care Without Harm (USA) Gary Cohen commented: “In many parts of the world, hospitals and health services are increasingly showing the way toward a low-carbon future. A national policy framework, such as the one proposed for Australia, can help support these efforts, and help accelerate the roll out of low-carbon healthcare while supporting community resilience and well-being. Transitioning away from fossil fuels is preventative medicine on a grand scale.”