Media Release: Warming climate threatens health, doctors warn

Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA) is warning of the dangers of extreme heat, as scorching temperatures continue to affect many areas of Australia, with Victoria particularly affected.

Temperatures across widespread areas of the state are expected to reach a searing 40 degrees C for much of this week.

DEA Victoria Chair Dr Eugenie Kayak said, “Extreme heat is a major threat to health and places significant strain on our health system.”

“Extreme heat is associated with increased risk of heart attacks, heat stroke and death,” Dr Kayak said.

“The 2009 heat wave, preceding Black Saturday, was associated with 374 excess deaths in Victoria.

“The elderly, the very young and those with pre-existing medical conditions are most vulnerable as well as those who are socially isolated or more exposed to extreme heat – the homeless and outdoor workers,” she said.

Often referred to as a ‘silent killer’ heat waves are responsible for more deaths than any other type of extreme weather event in Australia.

“These extreme weather events can place an enormous burden on our health system, with surges in ambulance call outs and emergency department presentations,” Dr Kayak said.

“It is important that people take measures to ensure they are safe this Summer by staying cool, well hydrated and in contact with others,” she said.

Australia has experienced an extremely hot start to 2014 with heat waves affecting large parts of the country, on the back of 2013 being the hottest year on record.

“Climate change is impacting our health now. An increasingly hot climate with more severe extreme weather events is the reality we face unless we take decisive action to reduce our fossil fuel emissions both domestically and through exports.”

“This week is a timely reminder that human health is fundamentally dependent on a stable climate and healthy environment and both should be public health priorities,” Dr Kayak said.
More information:
Further advice about staying safe in the heat can be found at: http://www.health.vic.gov.au/news/heatwave-2014.htm
Media contact:  Eugenie Kayak 0419 685 574
Doctors for the Environment Australia

67 Payneham Road COLLEGE PARK SA 5069
M: 0422 974 857 E: admin@dea.org.au W: dea.org.au

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