Nurses are strongly behind a call for the newly elected government to assess and monitor district health boards’ ‘steps’ to reduce their carbon footprint, says NZNO president Grant Brookes.
Health professionals met this week in Wellington for the first Sustainable Healthcare in Aotearoa-NZ forum organised by the Sustainable Health Sector National Network NZ and OraTaiao: The NZ Climate and Health Council.
Dr Alex McMillan, co-convenor of the Council said flooding, storms and sea level rise caused by climate change were already beginning to directly impact on health sector infrastructure. In the future the sector would also have to respond to changing disease patterns caused by climate change.
Brookes said the New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) was signatory to the Council’s call for the Ministry of Health to set greenhouse gas emission reduction targets for DHBs, to mandate all DHBs to measure, manage and reduce their emissions and report progress to the Ministry of Health annually.
“There are many compelling reasons for DHBs’ to reduce greenhouse gas emissions including cost savings, population health and health equity gains, healthcare quality improvement and reducing the health impacts of climate change globally,” said Brookes.
“The connection between climate change and health is all-encompassing. It has been one of the top three priorities of the World Health Organisation for several years.
“Action on climate change almost invariably benefits health with lower carbon emissions improving air quality and reducing respiratory disease, energy efficient heating lowering energy bills which helps reduce poverty,” said Brookes. “Walking and cycling is pollution free and improves fitness, reduces risk of heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.”