Consumers are concerned about the impact climate change has on health and believe the government is not doing enough to counter potential harms, according to findings from the Consumer Health Forum (CHF).
The recent Australia’s Health Panel survey, conducted by the Forum, found 77% of participants believed climate change could have an adverse impact on their personal health.
The survey also revealed 81% of panellists believed the government was not doing enough to counter health impacts of climate change.
The survey, which was conducted amidst the widespread bushfires, was the reflection of 136 participants.
Consumers Health Forum’s CEO Leanne Wells, said the findings reinforced heightened community sentiment about climate change and its effects on health triggered by this summer’s events.
“The survey, though of a relatively small number of people, nonetheless reflects the views of people who have an active interest in health issues.
Concerns about the impact of climate change included water security and quality, smoke, extreme weather, food security, air pollution, population displacement and spread of infectious diseases.
Given community sentiment, Ms Wells said the community and governments needed to recognise the necessity for more urgent and comprehensive action.
“CHF has joined and strongly supports the campaign by the Climate and Health Alliance in advocating for a national strategy on climate health and wellbeing,” she said.
“An effective national strategy must include a multi-portfolio response involving Federal and State governments and the development of a National Strategy on Climate, Health and Wellbeing. This will ensure a nationally coordinated approach to tackling the worsening health impacts of climate change, and that health service planning includes climate change preparedness to respond to the increasing demand for health services from extreme weather events, such as bushfires and heatwaves.
“We also recommend that the Federal Government’s 10-Year National Prevention Strategy include measures to combat the impact of climate change on health.
“The bush fires have made the need for preventive steps to protect health much more obvious and pressing, whether it be more attention to respiratory needs of children or more targeted care for those with chronic conditions including mental health issues,” said Ms Wells.
“The more important longer term development however is growing community recognition of the population-wide consequences of climate change in all its repercussions, such as threats to water and food security.”