A coalition of top medical groups has called on the Australian government to urgently roll out a national climate health action plan.
The Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA), which is made up of more than 40 health and medical organisations, warned on Monday, September 5, 2022, that the strain on the health system was growing as Australia is hit by more catastrophic fires and floods.
In the light of the Better Futures Forum in Canberra that held on Monday, health leaders said they would discuss the urgent priorities for the government’s proposed national climate health plan.
“Climate change is already killing Australians.
“The pressure on the health system and our health professionals is immense, all in the middle of a global pandemic,” Fiona Armstrong, founder of the CAHA, said in the statement.
“We have created a suite of recommendations to prepare and protect people and the health system from the now inevitable impacts of climate change.”
Members of the CAHA include the Australian Medical Association (AMA), Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP), and peak bodies representing nurses, midwives and psychologists.
They warned that between 1991 and 2018 there were an additional 3,000 deaths in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, Australia’s three biggest cities attributed to extreme heat.
“In this year alone, 23 people died in floods following a three-week deluge of rain along the east coast,” said the statement.
During the devastating 2019-20 Black Summer bushfires 33 people were killed directly in the fires while it was estimated that another 445 died because of smoke inhalation.
More than 3,000 were hospitalised during that period for smoke inhalation, said CAHA.