The ANF recognises climate change as a significant issue for health and participates in activities to mitigate its effects. At the front line of health care delivery, the nursing and midwifery professions will be increasingly affected by climate change in their professional capacity.
Climate Change and Health
Climate change has implications for human health. Increased average temperatures are contributing to more severe hot weather, storms, floods and fires. More days over 35 degrees contributes to heat stress in vulnerable groups such as the elderly and remote Indigenous communities. There is also the possible migration further south of diseases currently confined to tropical areas. Climate change poses significant threats to food and water security.
The accumulated health effects from these factors combined puts pressure on already stretched health and aged care facilities and the associated workforce. These sectors must be prepared and equipped to manage the health impacts of climate change.
Health and aged care facilities are significant contributors to climate change as large consumers of energy, water and products. They also generate huge volumes of waste.
There is much that can be done to prepare health and aged care facilities for increased demands placed on them due to climate change events, and to improve the overall environmental sustainability of the health and aged care sectors. More information about the role nurses, midwives and assistants in nursing can play in developing policy and influencing practices in their workplaces to improve energy and water efficiency, procurement, and waste management practices, is found in the resources below.
- ANF position statement on Climate Change
- ANF policy on Health and the Environment
- ANF position statement on Primary Health Care
- ICN Policy on Nurses, Climate Change and Health
The ANF is a member of the Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA), with a representative on the Committee of Management. This alliance of health related organisations seeks to educate the health sector about climate change and assist health and aged care facilities to improve their environmental sustainability. CAHA communicates to governments and the wider community about climate change and health.
CAHA has a range of publications including a monthly newsletter, position papers and submissions available on its website at http://www.caha.org.au. Individual nurses can participate in CAHA activities.
For further information the following websites and publications may be useful:
- The Climate Commission
- Global Green and Healthy Hospitals Network
- WHO Climate Change and Human Health
- The Critical Decade: Climate Change and Health
- A Climate of Suffering: the real costs of living with inaction on climate change – mental health and community wellbeing in the wake of extreme weather
- The Lancet Climate Change Series