On the 5th of December 2015, an unprecedented alliance of doctors, nurses, and other health professionals from every part of the health sector has come together calling on governments to reach a strong agreement at the UN climate negotiations that protects the health of patients and the public. Together, at the Annual Health and Climate Summit in Paris, they have announced the signatories of declarations representing over 1,700 health organizations, 8,200 hospitals and health facilities, and 13 million health professionals, bringing the global medical consensus on climate change to a level never seen before.
The declarations call for urgent action by governments to protect and promote health, and represents a firm commitment by health professionals to engage in the response to climate change.
The World Health Organization recently launched its first ever Call to Action on climate change, recognising the critical importance of COP21 for the future of global health. Other leading health actors have mobilised around this moment, with declarations led by organisations such as the World Medical Association.
“Climate change, and all of its dire consequences for health, should be at centre-stage, right now, whenever talk turns to the future of human civilizations. After all, that’s what’s at stake.”
Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General, World Health Organization
The NZ Climate & Health Council’s own Call to Action brings together 17 leading health professional organisations. These health groups represent tens of thousands of doctors, nurses, midwives, public health workers, and medical students, as well as all the medical and health sciences staff and students at Auckland and Otago Universities.
The 17 groups are calling on the NZ government, the health sector, and all levels of society to make an urgent transition to a low-emissions NZ, in ways that boost health and create a fairer society.
New analyses from the World Medical Association and the World Federation of Public Health Associations demonstrate that, whilst health systems and governments are beginning to take action on the health implications of climate change, countries’ policies to date fall far short of what is required. At this national level, a recent survey assessing health system preparedness found that a majority of respondent countries lacked a comprehensive national plan to protect their citizens from the health impacts of climate change. New Zealand performed poorly in the assessment because there is a lack of integrated planning for climate action that accounts for the health impacts of climate change and the benefits for health of taking action.
Media Spokesperson at COP21: Dr Alex Macmillan, Mob. 021 322 625
Alex Macmillan ([email protected]) is a Public Health Physician and Senior Lecturer at the University of Otago and Co-Convenor of OraTaiao: The New Zealand Climate and Health Council.
Health professional groups that have signed the NZ Call for Action on Climate Change and Health:
- OraTaiao: The NZ Climate and Health Council
- The Royal Australasian College of Physicians
- The New Zealand Medical Association (NZMA)
- NZ Nurses Organisation
- Health Promotion Forum of NZ
- Australasian College for Emergency Medicine
- NZ College of Public Health Medicine
- NZ College of Midwives
- Public Health Association of NZ
- Colleges of Nurses Aotearoa NZ
- New Zealand Society of Anaesthetists
- Auckland University Medical Students Association
- Medical Students for Global Awareness
- NZ Medical Students Association
- Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, The University of Auckland
- Division of Health Sciences, Universiy of Otago
- Te ORA: Māori Medical Practitioners Association
Full text of the NZ Call for Action on Climate Change and Health:
Full text of the World Federation of Public Health Association Survey Report
WFPHA Global climate change and health policy survey report:
About Climate Change and Health
Information about climate change and health in New Zealand is available in the following open access paper from the 2014 NZ Medical Journal:
Health and equity impacts of climate change in Aotearoa-New Zealand, and health gains from climate action
A new report summarising why COP21 is important to health from the Global Climate and Health Alliance:
Health and climate at COP21 and beyond