- Broad ranging inquiry into preparedness for health impacts of climate change
- Health services asked to reduce their environmental footprint
- Inquiry to investigate health implications of more frequent and intense weather events
A Chief Health Officer's Inquiry into the impacts of climate change on health in Western Australia will be conducted by the State's former Chief Health Officer, Professor Tarun Weeramanthri.
The inquiry will review the health system's capacity to respond to the effects of climate change and make recommendations for improvement.
The inquiry was a key recommendation of the Climate and Sustainability Forum held in July 2018, which identified that changing climate conditions, including more frequent and intense extreme weather events, can lead to increased injury and illness patterns including infectious diseases, airway diseases and heat-related illness.
The inquiry will aim to strengthen how communities and health services address key climate change vulnerabilities, and make preparations to reduce harmful health impacts for Western Australians.
It will also identify how WA health services can implement change, including reducing emissions and waste and increasing energy efficiency. In the past year, the WA health system issued:
- 81.1 million gloves (e.g. examination gloves and surgeon's gloves);
- 42.2 million 'single use' or 'disposable' items (e.g. hospital gowns, nappies, operating caps, surgical masks, syringes and surgical packs); and
- 9.1 million plastic wares (e.g. kidney bowls, medicine cups, plastic bags, instrument trays, test tubes and caps).
In the same period, March 2018 to February 2019, the WA health system spent approximately $47.3 million on electricity and $17.2 million on water.
The inquiry's final report is due by the end of 2019. Its findings will form the basis of a new, co-ordinated health and climate change framework for WA, reflecting changes in climate science and national policy.
Comments attributed to Health Minister Roger Cook:
"Climate change has been called the biggest global health threat of the 21st century, and it has serious implications for the population of Western Australia and the WA health system.
"The McGowan Government recognises the need to adapt to climate change to safeguard the health of the community, and I have called on the WA public health system, as one of the largest agencies in the State, to do more to reduce its emissions, operate more sustainably and implement adaptation measures.
"To achieve this, we need to better understand the impacts of our changing climate conditions and their costs - both financial and not financial - within and external to the health system.
"This Chief Health Officer Inquiry is the next step in ensuing Western Australia is prepared and will act to address the effects of climate change, and in creating a sustainable health system for WA."
Minister's office - 6552 6500