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Failing to prepare for the health effects of climate change risks Australian lives

30 Nov 2018

Media release

30 November 2018

Failing to prepare for the health effects of climate change risks Australian lives

On Thursday, the Medical Journal of Australia and The Lancet published a major assessment of progress on climate change and health in Australia, the MJA-Lancet Countdown. This report found that “Australia is vulnerable to the impacts of climate change on health, and that policy inaction in this regard threatens Australian lives”.

The Australian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA), the peak representative body

for Australia’s 17,000 medical students, joined with the Medical Journal of Australia, The Lancet and the Royal Australasian College of Physicians to develop a brief for Australian policymakers in response to the report’s findings.

“Climate change affects human health in a number of ways, from the spread of tropical disease, increasing regularity of natural disasters to decreasing food security, all of which have consequences for human health,” AMSA President, Ms Alex Farrell, said.

One of the brief’s key recommendations was that all Australian medical school curricula should be updated to include the impacts of climate change on human health. This is necessary in order to build the health sector’s capacity to help prevent and respond to the health impacts of climate change, the brief’s authors wrote.

AMSA says that the impacts of climate change on human health should be taught to future doctors at all Australian medical schools.

“It is critical that Australia’s future medical workforce is equipped to confront the public health challenges posed by climate change,” Ms Farrell said.

With COP24, the 24th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change being held in Katowice from the 3rd December, AMSA is calling upon the Australian Government to take note of these calls from the Australian medical profession.

Other recommendations from the policy brief include conducting research into the mental health impacts of climate change on Australian communities and broader policy objectives including the phasing out coal-fired electricity generation around the country.

The brief can be read in full here.

Media Contact

Georgie Behrens 

P: 0402376306


Published: 30 Nov 2018