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Australia’s first National Health and Climate Strategy

Australia’s first National Health and Climate Strategy represents an important whole-of-government plan to protect the health of Australians from the extreme threat of climate change, and build a sustainable, high-quality net-zero health system.

Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA) welcomes Australia’s National Health and Climate Strategy, launched at the first ever COP Health Day on 3rd December, 2023. The Strategy is a comprehensive, ambitious plan that recognises the severe threat of climate change on health and well-being, delivery of health services and community resilience and adaptation capacity. It also highlights the imperative and opportunities that come with transforming our health system to a more sustainable, high-quality, net-zero health system through collaboration across jurisdictions and prioritisation of preventative, primary and evidence-based care. 

DEA has been at the forefront of advocacy for a National Sustainable Healthcare Unit and Strategy for many years,  with many DEA members actively involved in this Strategy’s consultation process. 

Working for decarbonisation of the Australian healthcare sector has been an important goal of DEA’s collaboration with the Australian Medical Association (AMA), with both organisations committed to our health system achieving net zero emissions by 2040, with an interim goal of 80 per cent reduction by 2030. This collaboration has also resulted in the AMA/DEA Green College Guidelines, which have been endorsed by over a dozen medical organisations and referenced in the  Strategy’s decarbonisation of clinical care section. 

Similarly, DEA developed health professional education resources that are used in organisations across the country and successfully advocated for strengthened medical education standards aligning to the references and call for improved professional development in the Strategy’s workforce and leadership section.

The 4 substantive Strategy Objectives 1. Health system resilience 2. Health system decarbonisation 3. International collaboration and 4. Health in all policies, demonstrate a clear understanding of the social and environmental determinants of health, the need for collaboration, the enormity of the challenges that the health sector faces with climate change and the imperative and opportunities to be gained from the Australian healthcare sector playing its part in our race to net zero.

DEA also congratulates the Australian Government for joining the WHO ATACH (Alliance for Transformative Action on Climate and Health) program, of which DEA has been a member for over 12 months.

DEA’s mission is to ‘protect health through care of the environment’ and we find it extremely gratifying that the Strategy recognises that interconnectedness between the health of humans, animals and the environment, and that it incorporates a One Health perspective and a Health in All Policies objective, recognising that ‘good climate policy is good health policy’. We hope that the government extends this approach to recognise the extreme health harms of fossil fuels.

DEA would like to thank all our members who have contributed to the Strategy’s formulation and to our extensive sustainable health care work. Our members will be key enablers to the success of the Strategy as it is implemented across the country.

Doctors for the Environment Australia's response to the National Health & Climate Strategy - PDF (July 2023)

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