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Minister expects DHBs to take strong action on climate

Minister of Health expects DHBs to take strong action on climate change

The NZ Climate & Health Council has welcomed the climate change and health focus of the letter of expectations from the Minister of Health, David Clark, to all District Health Boards.

The letter, sent to all DHBs this month, sets out the Minister’s expectations for the areas DHBs will prioritise in the coming year. For 2018/2019, the Minister has prioritised strong action by DHBs on climate change:

“The Government… wants to support our health system to implement a strong response to climate change, this will include working with other DHBs, other agencies and across Government. Plans to address climate change and health need to incorporate both mitigation and adaptation strategies, underpinned by cost benefit analysis of co-benefits and financial savings.”

“Finally, we are seeing a recognition that climate change is a major threat to health, and that the health sector is a major contributor to New Zealand’s total climate pollution”, said Dr Alex Macmillan, OraTaiao’s co-convenor. “Together with the Associate Minister of Health’s specific delegations around climate change and health, the letter to DHBs is a major step forward”, she said.

“We need a national climate change and health action plan, which phases out the coal and gas boilers heating our hospitals, reduces health sector energy use and waste, and ensures our supply chains are low carbon. DHBs, as large employers and procurers, can then lead locally and influence other suppliers and organisations. The letter also expects DHBs to work with other sectors, like local government, energy and transport, to multi-solve for climate change and health.”

“Climate change is not only a major threat to health and fairness, as outlined in this recent Royal Society report, but it’s also a huge opportunity to address many of our major killers through well-designed action. For example, shifting from coal burning to a low emissions heat source by a hospital not only reduces carbon emissions, it also prevents illness by reducing local air pollution. Reducing hospital waste and improving energy efficiency also means savings for the health budget, which can be spent on treating more patients.”

“OraTaiao has been calling on the government to put these actions in place, so it’s heartening to see the first steps being taken. Health and fairness need to be at the centre of climate policy and action”, concluded Dr Macmillan


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