Media release

Climate commission report highlights the need for a national strategy for health and climate change

AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, said today that the Climate Commission report, The Critical Decade: Climate change and health, adds further weight to the AMA’s call for a National Strategy for Health and Climate Change.

Dr Hambleton said that the AMA shares the view of the Climate Commission that climate change poses a real and imminent threat to the health of Australians.

“The Government must develop a National Strategy for Health and Climate Change to ensure that Australia can respond effectively to the health impacts of climate change, extreme events, and to people’s medium to long-term recovery needs," Dr Hambleton said.

This National Strategy should incorporate:

  • strong communication linkages between hospitals, major medical centres, general practitioners and emergency response agencies, to maximise efficient use of health resources in extreme weather events;
  • localised disaster management plans for specific geographical regions that model potential adverse health outcomes in those areas;
  • nationally coordinated surveillance measures to prevent exotic disease vectors from becoming established in Australia,
  • development of effective interventions to address mental health issues arising from extreme events, including those involving mass casualties and from longer-term changes, including drought, and
  • a register of recently retired competent medical practitioners who are willing to assist in providing medical services during a national emergency.

Dr Hambleton said that the health impacts of climate change include the direct impacts of extreme events such as storms, floods, heatwaves and fires and the indirect effects of longer-term changes such as drought, changes to the food and water supply, resource conflicts and population shifts.

“Increased vector-borne diseases may be associated with both direct and indirect effects.  Some adverse impacts are already evident, while others are not expected to be felt until the middle of this century or even later.

“The World Health Organization has estimated that climate change is already responsible for measurable increases in malaria, diarrhoea and malnutrition.”

The AMA Position Statement on Climate Change and Health is at

30 November 2011

CONTACT:                        John Flannery                           02 6270 5477 / 0419 494 761

                                       Kirsty Waterford                       02 6270 5464 / 0427 209 753

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