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World Health Day: Doctors for a healthier planet - NZMA

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

"Health is the largest emitter of carbon emissions in the public sector, and the health reforms will be the biggest test thus far of the Government’s pledge to decarbonise the public sector," New Zealand Medical Association Chair, Dr Alistair Humphrey said.

The New Zealand Medical Association has released a new Planetary Health position statement on World Health Day, observed on April 7.

The position statement makes several key recommendations to embed a planetary health perspective in decision making across multiple sectors (eg, transport, agriculture/food systems, urban planning, etc).

"If we are truly going to build a centralised public health system on the foundation of equity, with improved health care quality to meet the needs of all New Zealanders, then it must address social, economic, and environmental determinants of ill-health," Alistair said.

"It so important we take the opportunity of the health reforms to make the rapid and deep structural changes we need - specifically in health, but also most dimensions of human activity - to protect healthy planet and healthy people.

"For example, a centralised health system would make it much easier to have a coordinated approach to minimise medical waste, by procuring supplies with fewer single-use products and less plastic packaging while maintaining sterility and patient safety.

"The consequences of the multiple environmental crises that we are facing fall disproportionately on countries and communities that have contributed least to the problem and are least able to mitigate the harms.

"Many of these countries are in the Pacific - and our neighbour’s climate challenges are our challenges.

"As scientists, leaders, health professionals and health advocates, doctors have a duty to raise awareness of the physical and psychological health impacts of our changing environment, to advocate for the structural changes required for a healthy planet and healthy people, and to educate our patients about the flow-on health benefits of pro-environmental changes," Alistair said.

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