“Climate Change is the defining issue of the 21st century” – Dr. Margaret Chan, World Health Organisation.

Climate Change is more than an environmental issue but has become an economic, social, health, and human rights issue. Australia is one of the developed countries most susceptible to the effects of climate change since a majority of the population is situated along the coastal areas. Some of the effects of climate change Australians can expect are rising sea levels, extreme weather patterns, and increase in intense rainfall events. Prompt government action is needed to mitigate and adapt to climate change effects.

The Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA) has proposed a plan for such government action entitled Framework for a National Strategy on Climate Health and Well-being1. CAHA is a coalition of health care stakeholders addressing the threat to human health from climate change through governmental and sectoral policy action2. The proposed framework identifies 7 areas of policy action and 8 key principles for applying policy actions. Each area of policy action is complemented with policy recommendations.

Seven areas of policy action:

  1. Health-promoting and emissions-reducing policies
  2. Emergency and disaster preparedness
  3. Supporting health and resilient communities
  4. Education and capacity building
  5. Leadership and governance
  6. A sustainable and climate-resilient health sector
  7. Research and data

Eight key principles:

  1. The right to health
  2. Community safety and resilience
  3. Environmental protection as a foundation for health and well-being
  4. Health in all policies
  5. Intragenerational and intergenerational equity
  6. Minimizing and managing risk
  7. Indigenous rights, recognition and reconciliation
  8. Citizen engagement

This framework outlines the need to understand the health risks of climate change and better ways to prepare for it. Take for example the 2016 thunderstorm in Victoria that caused a major asthma event where there was an increase of 3000% in asthma related admissions to intensive care.

Climate change mitigation must include vertical and horizontal intergovernmental collaboration across multiple sectors including: health, transportation, energy, agriculture, and infrastructure. An example of policy actions would be to expand investment into early warning systems for extreme weather events and to improve the capacity for recovery by preparing community service organisations to respond to such events.

ASLM supports the framework and congratulates CAHA and it’s stakeholder organisations for the initiatives they highlight.

Read the full Framework here.

Horsburgh, N., Armstrong, F., & Mulvenna, V. (2017). Framework for a National Strategy on Climate Health and Well-being. Climate and Health Alliance. http://www.caha.org.au/national_strategy_framework_launch