Media Release: Doctor training needs to step up on climate change, urge health experts

Universities and professional organisations must better prepare doctors and medical students to deal with the impacts of climate change, urge Australia’s leading medics.

Illness from extreme weather events is already being seen in doctors’ rooms and hospitals across Australia, and is placing stress on our health systems.

At the national conference of Doctors for the Environment Australia, DEA co-founder, Associate Professor Grant Blashki from the Nossal Institute for Global Health at the University of Melbourne and a practising GP, says that most doctor training doesn’t offer sufficient climate change and health curriculum, leaving thousands of professionals and graduates unprepared.

“We really need to prepare our future medical workforce to deal with the problems of a warmer world,” says Associate Professor Blashki. “Climate change is well recognised by leading medical bodies around the world as a global threat to public health and will likely become more significant over the coming years.”

“Medical practitioners will increasingly be called upon to respond to a climate-related health issues. They will need a range of competencies to assist their communities to adapt to changing climatic conditions, including bushfires, heatwaves, severe storms, and be able to contribute to emergency planning.

“Whilst we can’t attribute specific extreme weather events to climate change, warming temperatures load the dice to cause more frequent and more severe events.

“The sharp increase in hospital admissions that flooded Melbourne’s hospital with thunderstorm asthma is one example of the sorts of extreme weather events we can expect. Ambulance Victoria had six times its normal workload on the night of the storm, 8500 people went to hospital over that day and the next, and asthma medications ran low.”

“Similarly the current strong storms in Queensland show how important it is to adequately prepare our future medical workforce for managing extreme weather events which are predicted to be more severe and more frequent with climate change,” says Associate Professor Blashki.

A conference highlight is Climate Change and Health in the Training of Specialist Medicine– one of the first events featuring a high level panel of College presidents.

The panel will be facilitated by Professor Lynne Madden, President of the Australasian Faculty of Public Health Medicine. Panelists include:
-Professor Bastian M Seidel, President of the RACGP
-Dr Simon Judkins, President-Elect, ACEM
-Dr Kym Jenkins, President-Elect RANZCP
-Dr Scott Ma, Council member ANZCA
-Professor John Middleton, President UK Faculty of Public Health

At the conference, doctors will be joined by a range of general practitioners and medical specialists to discuss impacts of climate change on patients, communities and the effects on their practices.

Other speakers at iDEA17 include:

Dr Stephen Parnis (Emergency Physician; former Vice-President of AMA and President of AMA Victoria), Are our Emergency Rooms Prepared for the Climate Emergency?

Dr Alessandro Demaio (WHO Medical Officer for Non-Communicable Conditions and Nutrition) Obesity and Climate Change: 8 Reasons to Solve Both Together

Dr Marion Carey (Public Health Physician and Research Fellow at Monash University’s Sustainability Institute), The Great Barrier Reef, Biodiversity and Health


Media contact
Associate Professor Grant Blashki, ‪0407 662 771‬


Conference details
When: The conference will run in Melbourne from Saturday 1 April until Sunday 2 April.
Where: Copland theatre, basement level of the Business and Economics Building (‘the Spot’) of the University of Melbourne, Pelham St & Berkeley St, Parkville
For more information:

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