National Conference examines how medicos talk about climate change

1 Jul 2021

Framing climate change as a health emergency: Medical advocacy groups, including the AMA, are increasingly bringing this to light.

While climate change is generally well understood as an environmental, economic and social issue, framing it as a health risk is relatively new territory for much of the general public. But a growing body of dedicated health and medical advocacy groups are now speaking in these terms. 

Perhaps more than any other public health issue, speaking out on climate change most often prompts the “stay in your lane” response from critics of the AMA’s position.

The AMA’s policy on climate change was first released in 2004, and has grown to become a top advocacy priority. 

In September 2019, the AMA recognised climate change as a health emergency, with scientific evidence indicating severe impacts for our patients and communities, now and into the future. 

This declaration and our stance prompted significant discussion in the media and our membership. 

The findings of the MJA-Lancet Countdown on health and climate change were released in the Medical Journal of Australia.

The AMA President said doctors had an obligation to draw attention to large-scale and urgent health threats like climate change, and advocate for an evidence-based and ambitious response from our governments. 

Since then, we have followed up with a formal partnership with Doctors for the Environment and public support for a net zero by 2050 emissions reduction target, on health grounds.

At National Conference [link], a panel comprised of Dr Heidi Stensmyren, President Elect of the World Medical Association,  Dr Peter van den Hazel who is International President Elect of the Society of Doctors for the Environment and Dr Eugenie Kayak, Co-Chair of Doctors for the Environment Australia will examine the role of medical organisations in advocating for more ambitious action on climate change. 

Chaired by Dr Omar Khorshid, the panel will discuss why it’s important that our voices are heard, and ask how we can best contribute to the discussion. A key question is what role do doctors have in the multi-sector and society-wide response? We’ll also look at how medical organisations have responded globally and where we can go from here.

Register to attend the National Conference, which is open to all AMA members and non-member medical professionals in Australia. Internationally-based medical professionals interested in medico-political issues within Australia are also welcome. Go to ama.com.au/natcon