World Health Day 2022 – Healthcare Workers Ask Government To Make NZ Health System Climate Ready And Climate Friendly

Today is World Health Day, and eleven organisations representing doctors, nurses and other health professionals have written to Health Minister Andrew Little asking that, as part of the Government’s health reforms, our healthcare system is made climate ready and climate friendly.

“World Health Day 2022 is about our planet in recognition of the many avoidable deaths due to environmental causes in particular climate change, and on this day we ask the Government to make sure our hospitals and healthcare practices are sustainable, decarbonised and prepared for climate change,” said OraTaiao Co-convenor, and GP, Dr Dermot Coffey.

OraTaiao NZ Climate & Health Council; the New Zealand Medical Association; the New Zealand Nursing Organisation; the College of Nurses; the NZ Society of Anaesthetists; the NZ College of Midwives; Hāpai Te Hauora; the Royal Australian and NZ College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists; the Royal Australasian College of Physicians; The Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Psychiatrists and The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners have written to Minister Little recommending a dedicated sustainability unit, and intersectionality between the health sector and other public agencies in order to ensure that a healthy climate response becomes a central factor for decision making.

“The climate has impacts on both our physical and mental health, for example from the effects of heat, extreme weather events, spread of infectious diseases and changes to livelihoods. As healthcare professionals we see the effects on our patients and strongly feel an ethical obligation to act within human and planetary health boundaries. We need the Government to also act and recognise that, even in the middle of this Covid pandemic, healthcare professionals are still calling for action on climate change – that’s how important it is!” said Dr Coffey.

Dr Rob Burrell, The Environmental and Sustainability Network Chair of NZ Society of Anaesthetists said, “The people with the knowledge and skills to decarbonise healthcare are already working in healthcare. Healthcare redesign gives us an opportunity to do healthcare better, but also to do it more sustainably, more transparently, and with carbon reduction as a fundamental measurement of progress. What is good for the environment is good for health: carbon reduction in healthcare means better healthcare. Be ambitious Minister Little.”