The McGowan Government has released the Climate Health WA Inquiry Final Report and endorsed its recommendations in principle.
The Climate Health WA Inquiry was one of the key priorities within the Sustainable Health Review Final Report.
It is the first statutory inquiry anywhere in the world focused on the health impacts of climate change.
Key findings of the Inquiry include recognition that climate action is necessary for health system sustainability and that the benefits of change far outweigh costs when health is factored in.
The Inquiry found that the Western Australian health sector is close to the starting line in a race to reduce its own emissions and waste, but is keen to go further and faster.
This Report sets a blueprint for the next 10 years of the WA health system’s capability to adapt to climate change and better protect the health of the community, and to support health services to do more to reduce emissions and waste without compromising the quality of patient care.
The Inquiry sought information from the WA community, and Australian and international experts to obtain the best science, data and evidence to inform the recommendations.
The Report’s 10 recommendations include:
- Act early and establish a Sustainable Development Unit.
- Allow and incentivize a new normal in hospitals and health services.
- Department of Health to lead in reform of policy, procurement, performance, training and research.
- Strengthen adaptation in the specific areas of extreme weather events, heatwaves, mosquito control and air pollution.
- Establish data and early warning systems across environment and health.
- Create a new governance structure across mitigation and adaptation.
- Think strategically across a 10-year horizon.
- Communicate, consult and partner to raise public awareness of climate-health links and co-benefits of action, and reach vulnerable individuals and groups.
- Seek complementary action at a national level in a federal system.
- Contribute to learning, innovation and research.
The Report identifies that in the past decade there has been a lack of emissions reporting, evaluated initiatives, research and workforce training within the health sector.
To read the Climate Health WA Inquiry Final Report, visit https://ww2.health.wa.gov.au/climate-health-wa-final-report
As stated by Health Minister Roger Cook:
“The impacts of climate change are very real for us and are being experienced in both direct and indirect, complex ways. Last year was Western Australia’s warmest and driest year on record.
“We need to better understand the changes in disease and injury patterns affected by climate change so we can be better prepared and use our resources most efficiently.
“The Inquiry has helped to highlight the wide range of health impacts of climate change that have and will be felt, especially by those most vulnerable. That puts additional strain on health services at all levels.
“The report also highlights that health care services emit high emissions due to the nature of their activities.
“Many facilities operate 24 hours a day for 365 days a year and need to comply with high standards of hygiene, safety and quality to protect patients.
“They consume large volumes of water and generate considerable waste from plastics, food and pharmaceuticals.
“We can take more responsibility to ensure the healthcare system can minimise their waste and energy use to ultimately play our part to help mitigate climate change.
“I am asking the Department of Health to consider its findings and recommendations.
“I have asked the Department to work with health service providers to develop an implementation pathway, outlining how the recommendations can best be achieved in the short and long term.
“I would like to thank Professor Tarun Weeramanthri and the Inquiry team for their hard work, especially around the extensive consultation, and of course, to the WA community who provided input into the Inquiry.”