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Our climate, our health

8 October 2015

Our climate, our health: WHO calls for urgent action by NZ health professionals

Today the World Health Organization is calling for health professionals around the world to push for a strong effective climate agreement at the UN Climate Conference in Paris this December. In the WHO’s words, “Health professionals have a duty of care to current and future generations”.

Dr Alex Macmillan, co-convenor of OraTaiao, NZ’s Climate and Health Council, says that the WHO claims the Paris Climate Conference can create “the most important health agreement of the century”.

“The WHO states clearly that this is an opportunity to not only address the climate crisis and its health consequences, but to also create large, immediate health gains, reducing costs to health systems and communities,” explains Dr Macmillan.

“As well as calling for strong effective action to limit climate changes and avoid unacceptable risks to global health, the WHO is calling for climate adaptation finance to be scaled up and for actions address climate change and improve health at the same time.”

The WHO is calling for NZ health professionals to both sign up to the WHO’s call and to commit to lead by example.

“The WHO is urging health professionals to raise awareness, to help create real climate action that protects our country, communities and workplaces, and minimises climate-damaging pollution from our health systems”, says Dr Macmillan. OraTaiao has already led a Joint Health Call to Action in NZ, supported by a growing number of health professional groups calling for urgent climate health action.

OraTaiao shares our Prime Minister’s concern for thousands of people dying and millions displaced from the Syrian conflict linked to prolonged damaging droughts. Our Council’s research shows climate changes also hit the most vulnerable NZ households first and worst.

“It’s time to make our climate and our health the priority,” says Dr Macmillan. “We need to make healthy transport choices the easy choices and ensure every New Zealander can live in a healthy energy-efficient home. We need to encourage less meat and dairy in our daily diets and we need sustainability advisers in every DHB cutting climate-damaging carbon and healthcare costs.”

“It’s clear from today’s WHO call that climate action is high priority for all health professionals,” concludes Dr Macmillan.


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