Climate change has the potential to undermine public health gains made over the past 50 years and Australian governments, industry and the community must unite to tackle this emergency, the Australian College of Nursing (ACN) said today.
ACN and its colleagues across the health sector have joined forces to call on the Commonwealth and NSW Governments to implement measures to help alleviate the health and climate crisis.
“Climate change is a public health emergency,” Australian College of Nursing CEO, Adjunct Professor Kylie Ward FACN said. “The bushfires burning across the state demonstrate on a dramatic and tragic scale the impact of climate on public health and highlight the urgent need to do more to address climate change and build climate resilient health systems.”
ACN supports the International Council of Nurses’ Position Paper on Nurses, Climate Change, and Health which was originally adopted in 2008.
“Nurses are advocates for patients and when we see the effect climate change is having on those we care for we must speak up. Air pollution in many parts of NSW are more than 10 time the level known to be hazardous to health,” Adjunct Professor Ward said.
Air pollution is linked to diseases throughout life: including premature births, low birth weight babies, impaired lung development in children, asthma, heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and lung cancer.
ACN supports demands for a multi-portfolio response to the public health emergency involving Federal and State governments and the development of a National Strategy on Climate, Health and Well-being.
“The health sector has leading role to play in mitigating the impacts of climate change on health,” Adjunct Professor Ward said. “Our health care experts will not only support those experiencing climate related health issues, but can develop climate-informed programs for emerging diseases, implement sustainable practices in their own workplaces and lives, engage in health and climate research, and influence Australia’s policy response.”