Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA) is concerned for people’s health in a changing climate. A new report released by the Federal Government yesterday gives weight to doctors’ concerns. The federal government’s report State of Australian Cities 2013 predicts that heat related deaths in Australian cities, set to quadruple, with Perth and Brisbane particularly affected. Other cities will see more than double the number of heat related deaths.
Spokesperson for DEA, Dr George Crisp said today, “Climate change is a serious threat to our health with the elderly, the very young and those with pre-existing medical conditions being particularly vulnerable.
“We are concerned that Australia is yet to come to grips with the consequences of climate change on human health and the stresses it places on our healthcare system.
“During a heatwave, our body is placed under extreme stress and we can experience lethargy and heatstroke, with heart attack and even death effecting vulnerable people. During the 2009 heatwave in Victoria there were 374 excess deaths and a surge in demand for ambulance and emergency care,” said Dr Crisp.
Studies in Australia have found significantly increased rates of mortality, heart attacks, emergency department and, mental health presentations during heatwaves in Australian cities.
The State of the Cities 2013 report says, “Heatwaves are the leading cause of fatalities from natural disasters in major cities and the risk may increase with further global warming.”
It also says, “The liveability of Australia’s cities will be affected by how their sustainability is managed. Many cities are making significant progress in introducing of vegetative (including plants, trees, open green spaces and even forests) at various scales across cities – from buildings to districts and metropolitan regions …”
Dr Crisp said, “The new report confirms the grounds for concern and underlines the need to protect the natural environment and for climate change to be considered a public health priority.”
State of Australian Cities 2013 Department of Infrastructure and Transport: https://www.infrastructure.gov.au/infrastructure/mcu/soac/index.aspx
Dr George Crisp (WA) M: 0422 05735