AMA labels climate change a ‘health emergency’
4 September 2019 at 5:05 pm
The Australian Medical Association has declared that climate change is a health emergency which threatens to bring infectious diseases, hunger and heat stress to people across the country.
During its August meeting in Canberra, the AMA Federal Council issued a motion warning that climate change would have major health consequences on vulnerable people in Australia and the Pacific region.
“The Federal Council recognises climate change as a health emergency, with clear scientific evidence indicating severe impacts for our patients and communities now and into the future,” the motion said.
The AMA joined other health organisations around the world such as the American Medical Association and the British Medical Association in proclaiming climate change as a health crisis.
AMA president Dr Tony Bartone said the association accepted the scientific evidence on climate change and its impact on human health and wellbeing.
He said the AMA was proud to join “the international and local chorus of voices urging action to address climate change on health grounds”.
“The scientific reality is that climate change affects health and wellbeing by increasing the situations in which infectious diseases can be transmitted, and through more extreme weather events, particularly heatwaves,” Bartone said.
“Climate change will cause higher mortality and morbidity from heat stress. Climate change will cause injury and mortality from increasingly severe weather events.
“[It] will cause increases in the transmission of vector-borne diseases… cause food insecurity resulting from declines in agricultural outputs [and] cause a higher incidence of mental ill-health.”
The AMA is calling on the federal government to take action by promoting the health benefits of addressing climate change, developing a National Strategy for Health and Climate Change, and working towards an active transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy.