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  • Climate change and health: The case to act

    Isobel Braithwaite and Erica Parker, Global Climate and Health Alliance in Outreach on climate change and sustainable development On Saturday, the 2014 Climate and Health Summit brought together leading health experts and policy-makers from around the world. 

    Inspiring speakers “ including Peru's Minister of Health; the UNFCCC's Chief of Staff, Daniele Violetti; World Bank Vice President, Rachel Kyte; and IIED's Saleemul Huq “ shared their perspectives on the health dimensions of climate change and the political progress needed to protect health.

    Public health is arguably one of the most concerning “ yet under-reported “ elements of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) latest report, in terms of the health impacts which are projected to occur without adequate emissions reductions.

    However, a health perspective also gives us a reason for cautious optimism, because of the scale of the ˜co-benefits' of action on climate change for health.

    Clean air and water, shelter, safe ambient temperatures, and nutritious foods are examples of what are known as the ˜determinants of health', and they all are threatened by climate change.

    A warmer and wetter climate is expected to increase people's exposure to heatwaves, floods, wildfires and tropical storms, causing multiple direct health effects.

    At the most basic level, high temperatures increase physiological stress, and without sufficient mitigation efforts now, we could see temperatures so hot that they make it almost impossible to work outside for parts of the year in some places.

    Climate change also has less direct effects, resulting from the damage to crops, homes and businesses caused by higher temperatures, changing patterns of rainfall and extreme weather events.

    Such changes may in turn affect even more people than direct effects, such as heat stress or the spread of infectious diseases, as illustrated by the devastating aftermath of events such as Haiyan and Hagiput in the Philippines, only a year apart.

    Such impacts “ direct and indirect “ tend to affect the world's poorest disproportionally, and those already suffering from complex physical or mental illnesses first and most severely.

    Hospitals need to be able to continue caring for their existing patients during events such as these, as well as responding to the needs of those who are injured or become ill.

    Climate change therefore poses a double burden, increasing the strain on health systems which are often already overstretched.

    Yet only an estimated one per cent of climate adaptation finance goes towards the health sector.

    Of course, adaptation in other sectors also helps to protect health, by helping to safeguard the determinants of health, but also because maintaining adequate healthcare requires access to energy and transport to and from healthcare facilities, for example.

    However, it would arguably be justifiable to spend a greater proportion of climate finance to ensure that health systems can continue to function, given how highly many people value access to healthcare.

    The health perspective discussed at the Lima Climate and Health Summit is something of a secret about climate change, and we hope that events such as this will help to change this, particularly looking towards COP21 in Paris next year.

    One of the health sector's crucial roles in this respect is to ensure that policy-makers and the public are aware that many of the policies we need to prevent dangerous climate change are also directly beneficial for people's health, and that this can save substantial amounts of money, for example through reduced hospital admissions and lower medication use for respiratory diseases as a result of cleaner air.

    This is true in the short term, even if we ignore the health benefits of reduced climate impacts later on.

    Public health concerns are in fact often the major driver for many policies with a significant benefit for the climate, as with Beijing's planned ban on coal combustion from 2020 for example.

    Reducing fossil fuel subsidies and increasing those for renewable energy (which is currently subsidised less than a fifth as much as fossil fuels) could help to redress the balance in favour of protecting health and the climate.

    Climate change is increasingly being recognised as the defining public health issue of our time.

    The 2014 Climate and Health Summit highlighted this growing acknowledgment, and demonstrated the high-level support from the health sector for governments to agree a fair and ambitious global climate deal in 2015.

    During the Summit, the Global Climate and Health Alliance's Director, Nick Watts, argued that tackling climate change is our ˜greatest opportunity' to achieve better health.

    Our task now is to turn this opportunity into a reality.



  • CAHA Public Seminar: Protecting Health from Climate Change

    Protecting health from climate change: what's needed? Held at the University of NSW in Sydney on the 25th November 2014, this public seminar revealed the extent to which the health of local and global communities is increasingly threatened by climate change. It featured expert speakers on climate and health, policy shortfalls, technological and political solutions and the role of divestment in limiting national and global emissions. If you missed out on this event you can watch videos of each of the presentations below: - Prof Melissa Haswell: Re-aligning our relationship with the environment in policy and decision making - Prof Lesley Hughes: Climate change and human health - Prof Mark Diesendorf: Replacing fossil fuels with renewables- what's possible? - Trevor Thomas: Strategies to constrain growth in emissions - divestment - Prof Peter Sainsbury: Reports from the 2014 WHO Health & Climate Conference & 2014 UN Climate Summit

  • The health sector as a leader in low carbon transformation

    Greening the healthcare sector Think Tank

    14 October 2014 Mater Hospital, Brisbane A discussion by the health sector about accelerating progress towards sustainable healthcare and hospital practices You can now download the full report

    Background The third annual Think Tank provided the opportunity for the health care sector to discuss case studies of change, national and international opportunities for collaboration, and contribute to a discussion to accelerate progress towards sustainable healthcare and hospital practices. The Think Tank was hosted by the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association and Climate and Health Alliance in partnership with the international coalition of health care organisations, the Global Green and Healthy Hospitals network. The meeting was held on 14 October 2014 at the Mater Health Services in Brisbane. The 30 participants were from 25 organisations including hospitals, health care services and peak bodies, state government health departments, professional associations, universities and advocacy groups. Think tank results

    • Enabled presentation and discussion of key issues including engagement of management and staff; waste and utility management; data management and reporting
    • Highlighted successful case studies and opportunities for national and international collaboration
    • Enabled knowledge sharing and networking amongst participants
    • Identified and prioritised a set of challenges for consideration by AHHA and CAHA
    • Raised awareness of greening health care issues and meeting outputs amongst broader health care stakeholders through social media.

    Common factors that can support success

    1. Behavioural change will begin with a change in thinking “ move from a medical to social model of health
    2. Imperative to have executive support which is then also reflected in strategy and planning
    3. Imperative to have multiple ways to engage staff but this needs to be backed by support for them to act
    4. Network to share innovation, success, research, learning: someone, somewhere is tackling your problem
    5. ˜Waste' is an effective starting point enabling tangible gains that can leverage support
    6. Lack of a definition of ˜sustainable healthcare' for use by the sector
    7. A perceived disconnect between sustainability and healthcare resulting in low priority for sustainability
    8. Gaining support within health care organisations and across the sector
    9. Obtaining long term, external funding for sustainability activities

    Top challenges identified by participants 

    1. Lack of a definition of ˜sustainable healthcare' for use by the sector
    2. A perceived disconnect between sustainability and healthcare resulting in low priority for sustainability
    3. Gaining support within health care organisations and across the sector
    4. Obtaining long term, external funding for sustainability activities


    1. Engaging staff to achieve institution-wide sustainability goals
    2. Sustainable futures for rural healthcare
    3. Global Green & Healthy Hospitals Connect: A platform for global collaboration to accelerate low carbon transformation in healthcare
    4. Advances in water and waste management
    5. What is the Australasian Healthcare Infrastructure Alliance doing to promote environmental sustainability?
    6. Snapshot of Victoria's environmental data management system


  • Are you going to stand back and let the coal industry determine our future? Or are you going to fight for it?

    Dear Friends and Colleagues, 

    As you know, the G20 Leaders Summit is on this weekend in Brisbane and world leaders are gathering to talk about issues ranging from development, employment, taxation, infrastructure, investment and trade. But not climate change. Meanwhile the coal industry is at the G20, working to secure greater subsidies and less regulation of their deadly product.

    Coal causes hundreds of thousands of premature deaths each year, largely from exposure to air pollution from coal fired power plants in developing nations. Leading climate and energy scientists from around the world say any further expansion of coal is incompatible with avoiding dangerous climate change. Coal must be quickly substituted for zero emission technologies, and the majority of fossil fuel reserves must stay in the ground.

    However the Prime Minister Tony Abbott declared "coal is good for humanity" and "coal is essential for the prosperity of the world". The Qld Premier Campbell Newman recently claimed those opposing Australia's coal exports are "condemning people in China, but particularly in India, who live in poverty, condemning them to that poverty." He went on to say: "To take 1.3 billion people in India out of poverty is going to require significant energy, and coal particularly is what they're after." India doesn't want our coal This might come as something of a surprise to the people of India, wrote Indian energy policy analyst Shankar Sharma in an open letter to the Qld Premier last week: "This statement, if reported correctly, indicates to me that you did not have the benefit of effective briefing by your officers. Not only is it "highly irrational to assume that everyone in 1.3 billion is poor," writes Mr Sharma, but "it is surprising that it seems that you have not been briefed on the social and environmental aspects of burning large quantities of coal in a densely populated and resource constrained country like India."

    The Indian Energy Minister Piyush Goyal has just told the World Economic Forum they will be investing US$100bn in renewable energy in the next five years. Coal isn't the answer to energy access. Access to electricity for poor people in the developing world can be provided much more cheaply and cleanly with renewable energy, with none of the risks to health posed by fossil fuels, or the associated greenhouse gas emissions.

    The coal industry plan to expand, regardless of the damage they cause Coal industry leaders know their days are numbered. That's why they have engaged Burson-Marsteller, the PR company which handled the PR for the 1984 Union Carbide gas leak in Bhopal, India and formerly made a living spruiking the benefits of tobacco. Now they've helped Peabody Energy and others set up the Advanced Energy for Life campaign, aimed at influencing world leaders to help them "fight energy poverty" and suggesting that without access to coal, the developed world will forever be consigned to poverty. In an extraordinary display of hubris, they even claim "coal is key to human health and welfare, along with a clean environment."

    As they make plain in this video, their goal is to secure policy commitments from world leaders at the G20 that support the expansion of coal.

    We can't let this happen! As health and medical professionals, we can't just stand back and allow the coal industry to wreck the planet and cause the deaths of thousands of people in this callous and calculated pursuit of profit. The industry is on the attack “ just last week, when CAHA President and Australian National University climate and health researcher Dr Liz Hanna responded to the sobering findings of the latest IPCC report by pointing to the dangers of Australian coal exports, Minerals Council CEO Brendan Pearson responded by suggesting Dr Hanna was "unable to distinguish between ideological prejudice and scholarship"!

    What can you do? Write a letter to the editor or an opinion piece for publication in one of the major newspapers or online publications expressing your concerns about the unfettered expansion of coal in Australia and the risks it poses to people's health and the climate.

    Contact details: Courier Mail use this online form Brisbane Times use this online form The Australian [email protected] Sydney Morning Herald [email protected] The Age use this online form The Adelaide Advertiser use this online form The Canberra Times [email protected] The West Australian [email protected] The Hobart Mercury use this online form Northern Territory News use this online form Croakey (health blog at Crikey) [email protected] Climate Spectator [email protected] Renew Economy [email protected] The New Daily [email protected]

    Hit the airwaves ABC Radio Brisbane 1300 222 612 4BC 13 13 32 ABC Radio National 1300 225 576 Get cracking on social media

    • Twitter “ tweet the Premier @theqldpremier and let him know your thoughts on the matter (use these hash tags: #climate #coal #climate2014 #renewables #G20)
    • Facebook “ share these infographics here here and here and some of the links below

    Need more information? Here are some links to recent reports:

    Here are some useful newspaper articles:

    Here are some recent health / medical journal articles:

    Here are some resources on coal and health:

    More useful resources on

  • Tribute to Professor Tony McMichael

    It is with great sadness that CAHA received news of Professor Emeritus A.J. (Tony) McMichael's death last week from complications associated with influenza.

    It is no understatement to say the climate and health world globally is reeling from the loss of a giant among men, a visionary intellectual, public health champion and extraordinary human being. His colleague and friend Professor Colin Butler has penned the following blog, which is being updated with tributes: click to read the blog Melissa Sweet from Croakey has written the following blog, which is also being updated: click here to read The British Medical Journal, The Lancet, Environmental Health Perspectives are all planning obituaries.

    CAHA Convenor Fiona Armstrong writes: "Like many others, I was inspired to work in climate and health from reading Tony's research. I consider myself extraordinarily fortunate to have had the benefit of his wise counsel since CAHA was established in 2010. He was a quiet champion of CAHA's work, an inspiration and guide."

    Watch this video of Tony's speech at the launch of the CAHA/The Climate Institute report, Our Uncashed Dividend, in 2012 here Fiona wrote the following post about the festschrift, held in his honour at ANU, in 2012: click here A profile here, published some time ago, captures some of the achievements of this extraordinary man.    

  • Greening the Healthcare Sector Think Tank 14th Oct 2014

    Hosted by Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) and Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA) in partnership with Global Green and Healthy Hospitals


    Event Title: ˜The Health Sector as a Leader in Low Carbon Transformation' When: Tuesday 14th October 2014 Where: Mater Hospital, South Brisbane Featuring case studies and experts on the following themes:

    • Building healthy and sustainable healthcare infrastructure
    • Waste not “ the transformation of disposal in healthcare
    • Engaging others “ making sustainability everyone's business
    • Building a national and global community for healthy, sustainable healthcare

    Opportunities to improve environmental sustainability in the healthcare sector are rapidly expanding. There are increasingly substantive economic drivers supporting a growing cohort of health and sustainability professionals in implementing strategies in their organisations for cutting carbon, reducing waste, minimising chemicals, and greening the supply chain. The Greening the Healthcare Sector Think Tank provides an opportunity for those working in the sector to hear first hand case studies of change, talk to experts, hear about opportunities for collaboration, and contribute to a discussion about how we can work together to accelerate progress within the health sector towards sustainable healthcare and hospital practices. This Think Tank will allow participants to hear from industry leaders and professionals and engage in discussions about strategies to improve environmental sustainability and population health while reducing pressure on health sector budgets. Building green healthcare facilities, engaging staff for institution-wide change, reducing waste and saving money will be some of the topics covered in this dynamic and interactive event.

    The Think Tank will be facilitated by leading sustainability educator and consultant Ian McBurney, and will feature snap shot presentations from professionals, followed by engaging and interactive discussions.

    Beamed in live from Washington state will be Nick Thorp, Global Community Manager of the Global Green and Healthy Hospitals network. Hear about this rapidly expanding network and the innovative platform that is enabling health and sustainability professionals to connect with one another around the world. If you are looking for tools and resources to support sustainability initiatives and want to know how to succeed through collaboration with others “ look no further! Download the program here. Register now! Click on this link to register.  

  • Raising funds for CAHA's work - why no DGR?

    CAHA has been working to raise awareness about the health risks from climate change and the health benefits from lowering emissions since 2010. Its' work during that time has largely been supported by pro bono and in-kind support, as well as some donations from individuals and philanthropic organisations. However an impediment to raising funds for CAHA as a charity has been its lack of 'tax deductible' status or 'deductible gift recipient (DGR)' status for donations. There is a bit of a story attached to CAHA's lack of tax deductibility.

    We often get asked why we don't have DGR.

    We decided we'd share the story.

    Why doesn't the Climate and Health Alliance have tax deductible (known as ˜deductible gift recipient' or ˜DGR') status?

    Well, it's very good question, and one the members and governing body of the Climate and Health Alliance have been puzzling over for some time. This document provides a timeline overview of the process pursued to date.

    November 2010 When CAHA was formed in 2010, we applied for DGR as a Health Promotion Charity (HPC), one of the categories eligible for this status and applicable to organisations or institutions that promote the prevention or the control of diseases in human beings.

    The response we received was from the Australian Tax Office that while CAHA was considered to have "charitable purposes", it was refused endorsement for DGR. The letter stated: "We do not consider the Alliance to be involved in the promotion of the prevention or control of disease in humans. The Alliance's principal activities involve propaganda in the community for action on climate change and the risks it may have on health. Whether its principal activity is to promote the prevention or control of disease in human beings "Climate change is a highly contentious issue among lawmakers and the community with both believers and skeptics putting forward their evidence to support their contentions. The potential health risks to human beings in the long terms as result of climate change are not yet established and are speculatory (sic), depending on which view one supports. "Where the possible risks to health are not real, tangible and current, activities that claim to promote the prevention and control of those risks cannot be considered valid enough to warrant HPC endorsement. "The Alliance's activities with regard to health are limited to creating awareness of and advocating for the development of policies to minimise potential adverse health consequences of climate change. "There is no valid nexus between the Alliance's activities and the promotion and control of disease in human beings. "Accordingly, endorsement as a HPC is not granted."

    You can read the full letter to CAHA from the ATO here.

    December 2010 There was a substantive objection to this refusal from the Climate and Health Alliance which asserted that the activities of the Climate and Health Alliance were indeed activities that constituted "health promotion", according to definitions of the term from the World Health Organisation, the Ottawa Charter (the international agreement on health promotion signed in 1986), as well as the Australian Health Promotion Association and the Public Health Association of Australia, both members of the Climate and Health Alliance.

    You can read the letter from CAHA to the ATO here.

    May 2011 The Climate and Health Alliance received a notice of objection decision from the ATO in May 2011, which stated: "The principal activity of a HPC must be directed towards the prevention or control of diseases. This is distinct from promoting health generally." "Climate change is not a disease." "The focus of the Alliance is the cause “ climate change “ not the diseases themselves." "As already established, the overall purpose of the Alliance is to promote the health of human beings and protect it from the effects of climate change. "As such, the principal activity of the Association (sic) is too remote from the promotion and control of diseases in human beings to be a HPC."

    You can read the letter from the ATO to CAHA here.

    June 2012 The Climate and Health Alliance obtained advice that it should be eligible for DGR as a registered environmental organisation. It applied to join the Register of Environmental Organisations (REO) by lodging an application with the Department of Environment.

    September 2013 The Climate and Health Alliance received advice from the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities that it was denied entry to the register, and thus denied DGR status as part of this register. The letter stated: "The Department¦. is not satisfied the Climate and Health Alliance meets the principal purpose test, as its principal purpose is to promote and protect health. The organisation's focus on environmental degradation and climate change is not its principal purpose, rather a means by which the organisation seeks to promote and protect health." The Department offered the opportunity to seek Ministerial consideration of the decision.

    You can read the letter from the Department to CAHA here.

    October 2013 The Climate and Health Alliance wrote to the Department requesting Ministerial consideration of the decision on the grounds that: "The objects of the Climate and Health Alliance as stated in its Rules and its application clearly demonstrate the principal purpose of the Alliance is "the restoration of a healthy and ecologically sustainable natural environment for all species, including humans." "The work of the Climate and Health Alliance centres on advocacy for policy and research on the impacts of climate change, and highlighting the benefits of climate action and environmental protection. "It does so through the lens of human health as a valid and effective method of highlighting environmental concerns. This approach is supported by peer reviewed climate and environmental communications literature, which demonstrates that by framing climate change and environmental harm in the context of health and wellbeing, it is possible to build support for policies to reduce climate and environmental risks more effectively than by using an environmental frame. "Given humans constitute the greatest threat to the natural environment; shaping the behaviour of humans in ways that reduce environmental harms is the most effective strategy available to us to reduce risks to the natural environment. Many scientists believe that building a greater awareness about the dependence of humans on fragile and vulnerable ecosystems is vital if we are to effectively halt the destruction of the natural world."

    You can read the letter from CAHA to the Department here.

    April 2014 The Minister for the Environment, Greg Hunt MP, wrote to CAHA to say he was no satisfied CAHA was an environmental organisation for the purposes of the Income Tax Assessment Act. The letter states: "I found that the principal purpose of CAHA, as indicated in the purposes and objectives set out in the CAHA Rules, is the protection of human health and wellbeing, including through the protection of the natural environment, or though the provision of information or education about the natural environment." "I found that CAHA's activities of providing information and education, and conducting research, about climate change and environmental degradation are a means by which the organisation seeks to achieve its ultimate purpose which is to promote and protect human health and wellbeing."

    You can read the letter from Minister Hunt to CAHA here.

    February 2015 CAHA's latest advice is that, since our work occurs at the nexus of 'environment' and 'health', there is no classification in Australian tax law or regulations to recognise this. In this siloed approach to policy and tax revenue, we fall between the cracks.

  • Environmental sustainability in health care - why do it?

    By Chris Hill, Director of Environmental Sustainability, Mater Published 5 May 2014 on Sustainability At Work The priority of our team at Mater Health Services will always be the delivery of exceptional care to patients. That raises the question "Why focus on sustainability?" I for one believe the two are not mutually exclusive, and in fact often ask why you would not focus on this area, which can return financial savings that can be reinvested into patient care. These savings also translate to broader benefits “ from an environmental perspective through decreased consumption, and also the often hard-to-measure behavioural change. The journey for me at Mater has evolved significantly over the past few years as our Sustainability at Materprogram gained momentum within our group of almost 7600 staff. Our program commenced in 2008, initially driven by legislative requirements for the Clean Energy Act and associated Smart Energy Savings Program from a state-wide perspective, and the Federal National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Act 2007. What was predominantly implemented to ensure adherence to these policies has grown into a key area of focus for Mater and seamlessly integrated into "normal business practice". To support the implementation of various campaigns and tactics associated with the program, a multidisciplinary committee, comprising executive directors and senior directors from across Mater, was established. This process really began from scratch, with no existing platform to refer to regarding how to successfully implement our ideas across our health care environment for the best possible outcome. Recognition of the environment in our strategic plan was crucial for the implementation of our program in the key areas of focus “ energy, water, waste, facilities design, procurement, transport and stakeholder engagement “ from which 126 initiatives were identified. The implementation of initiatives began with those that provided tangible results, so that staff could "see" the changes and therefore more easily align to the program. Examples included dual printing (with more than 6 million pages saved to date), the installation of 24 water tanks across our South Brisbane campus, increase to bike parking (90 spaces, each with a locker) and a commitment to recycling across numerous areas. A comprehensive communication and engagement plan was developed in-house with Mater Marketing to develop an easily identifiable design to be consistently used for all communication related to the program. The plan also articulates aims and objectives, key messages, stakeholders and communication tools. A behavioural study undertaken with Griffith University and The University of Queensland, supported by results from an all staff engagement survey, indicated waste was a priority of staff in terms of tangible environmental sustainability. This was translated into practice, with changes such as supporting co-mingled recycling in non-clinical office areas and changes to clinical waste disposal processes. There are now 11 recycling streams in place across areas of the campus and during the last two years, this has increased recycling by more than 115 tonnes per year and has reduced clinical waste by more than 80 tonnes. This program is planned for expansion across the entire organisation. Other programs targeting behavioural change involved direct engagement with staff. A "turn it off" campaign was delivered in conjunction with the universities to encourage staff to turn off lights and appliances when not in use. Mater-branded "keep cups" were also made available within cafes. This cost-neutral campaign has resulted in sales of almost 3000 cups since 2011. We have also linked to external campaigns, with great success. During MobileMuster in March 2013, more than 40 kilograms of mobile phones and accessories were donated by staff, supporting the positioning of permanent collection points. National Ride to Work Day also attracted more than 50 participants who were treated to a free end-of-ride breakfast. During a Friday File Fling in November 2013 to support National Recycling Week, more than five tonnes of material was collected by Mater's waste team for recycling (or shredding, for confidential material). Staff education is also now incorporated into a variety of programs coordinated by Mater Education Centre. Mater's behavioural standards handbook and new staff orientation sessions reinforce Mater's commitment to environmental sustainability by setting out expectations for responsible stewardship from the commencement of employment. While staff support of the program is essential to its success, the ability to demonstrate organisational savings “ both financial and environmental “ is not only required for the program's future, but also aids in it becoming a component of "business as usual", rather than an additional program drawing from other priorities. Energy initiatives such as installing energy efficient lighting into Mater car parks has reduced energy use by more than 30 per cent, with a less-than-two-year payback. As part of our commitment to the Smart Energy Savings Plan, a $1.9 million chiller replacement program was delivered. It has decreased energy use, and air conditioning scheduling continues to be monitored to ensure its use during core periods. The implementation of a campus-wide temperature policy to regulate summer and winter temperature levels is also expected to contribute to a reduction in energy use. Electricity contract negotiations in partnership with an external energy broker have delivered substantial financial savings for the 2013-14 financial year and current renegotiation to a "flexible" wholesale price is expected to deliver further savings from January 2015. We are also investigating the appointment of an external contractor to develop an energy management plan for Mater that will recommend and cost payback periods for a number of initiatives, to allow for inclusion in our capital budget process. Mater has delivered many other initiatives which have contributed to Sustainability at Mater. These include fleet and fuel reduction, reduction in the use of plastic water bottles for patients, miscellaneous lighting upgrades, carbon footprint measurement, volatile organic compound-free paint and green waste shredding. All initiatives, big or small, support Mater's goals within the area of environmental sustainability. To summarise, in my opinion, the success for environmental sustainability across an organisation must include the following components:

    • You must have top management support for this to be successful.
    • Multiple contributions from all areas do make a difference.
    • Embed these changes into "business as usual" and there are more dollars available for patient care.
    • Environmental sustainability integration is transferrable across all industries.

    Chris Hill is Mater's director of environmental sustainability. He can be contacted via [email protected]. This was first published in Catholic Health Australia's Autumn 2014 issue of Health Matters.

  • Webinar on Health and Climate Change in Mongolia - The Policy Response

    Webinar with Tsetsegsaikhan Batmunkh from the Ministry of Health in Mongolia who will discuss the steps her country is taking to adapt and mitigate the health impacts of climate change. Monday 21st July 2014 at 12pm-1.00pm - Please note you will need a microphone and speakers to join using your computer, and need to download the Webex software in order to join. Join the webinar (please try and join about 5-10 minutes prior) Event number: 641 660 046 Event password: climate If you are unable to join using your computer, you can follow this link for information about using your phone to join the Webinar via audio Webinar program details: How is Mongolia responding to the health impacts of climate change?

    Mongolia's geographical position and climate situation, along with the traditional nomadic way of life make it very sensitive to climate change. The climate change impacts are obvious and affecting Mongolia in different ways. The annual mean temperature has increased by 2.14C during the last 70 years, while the precipitation has decreased.

    Recent research shows negative impacts on health, particularly for most vulnerable population, such as children, herders and aging population.

    About the presenter:

    Tsetsegsaikhan Batmunkh graduated from People's Friendship University in Russia as a medical doctor in 2001. She obtained a PhD degree in microbiology from People's Friendship University in 2005, and has just completed Master in Public Health/Health Management at UNSW, Australia.

    Her work experience includes:2004-2005 Embassy of Mongolia in Russian Federation; 2005 - Central Joint Laboratory of the State Inspection Agency; 2007-2013 Ministry of Health, Officer in charge of Environmental Health, local focal point for the WHO Environmental Health Programme. She is a Member of International Solid Waste Association and member of Global Green and Healthy Hospitals Network. Tsegi has published approximately 30 books and articles on environmental health in Mongolia.

  • Federal Budget will actively worsen the health of people and planet

    By Dr Liz Hanna, Australian National University Posted by the Fifth Estate on 16 May 2014 The first federal budget from the Abbott government very clearly demonstrated its ideology to the Australian public, which it kept carefully under wraps prior to the election, along with repeated promises of "no surprises" and "no cuts", while they lauded the merits of "trust". So Australia now has a government under false pretenses. Sly manoeuvring includes cuts of $50 billion to hospitals, forcing cash-strapped states to push for a rise in GST, which many analysts agree is needed to sustain required levels of services, and was recommended in the Commission of Audit. Another sleight of hand is the systemic demise of preventive health care towards funding high-tech research, much of which will benefit big pharma. Such a fiscally irresponsible move reflects again the distorted ideology of giving preferential treatment to profits over the health of the public. Investments in prevention give benefits in the order of 3:1 to 40:1, that, is every dollar spent on preventing diseases saves between 3 to 40 dollars in health spending in treating that disease at a later date (on today's prices). The benefits to the individual, their family and society of avoided illness far exceeds these figures. So it is not only heartless, but bad economic policy to curtail prevention research and programs. Preventative health starts with the environment On all continents, the greatest population health gains have been achieved via providing urban communities clean and healthy environments, and by people following a healthy lifestyle. This means clean air, clean food and clean water. Environmental degradation hampers health, and lifestyle diseases continue to contribute heavily to Australia's burden of disease. Yet the Abbott Government's first budget wilfully sets to destroy recent advances. Their bad policies will: worsen air pollution and reduce physical inactivity by promoting roads over rail exacerbate climate change, giving us hotter summers, and more disastrous fires, droughts and damaging storms, by scrapping renewable energy incentives and promoting fossil fuel industries shovel more people into a state of poverty and hopelessness, which inevitably results in poorer health, made worse by restricting access to expensive health care Australia must address climate change Australia would be better served by a budget that addressed Australia's high vulnerability to climate change. Rather than supporting Australia to prepare for more frequent and more intense heat waves, deeper droughts, more catastrophic fires and storms, and steering Australia to reverse its own contribution to these, this budget does the reverse. Adaptation funding, already diminished, will be wound back and ceased. The budget proposes to abolish the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, established to boost the rollout of affordable renewable energy, to scrap of $10 billion Clean Energy Finance Corporation, and remove the carbon price. Funding for public transport is scuppered to build more roads, whereas subsidies to polluters continue, and new incentives are planned for mining. An ideological opposition to health? This government is apparently ideologically opposed to the health of Australians. The boost to medical research is a con job, thrown in as a sweetener, hoping Australia will swallow the nasty pill of the demise of Medicare. Can we trust this “ or future “ governments not to incrementally erode the universality of Medicare? Past performance would suggest not. For decades, the Liberal Coalition has made repeated efforts to dismantle Medicare at every opportunity. Australia's health system took decades to build, and we have an excellent mix that attends the needs of the poor, funded proportionally by income tax, and provides for private health care. We deliver better health outcomes than the more expensive American model, yet this government pushes us away from a health system regarded by many as "the envy of the world", and towards that poor performing system. As the population expands, the health system, including health promotion and protection, needs investment, not slashing. Amalgamation of major agencies such as the National Preventative Task Force and the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare with groups whose focus is health efficiencies is a retrograde step. Australia considers itself an advanced society. Advanced societies investigate their vulnerabilities, address their shortfalls, track their progress, confront the residual challenges and monitor performance by publishing trend data. The AIHW gives us this. We took pride in our government's transparency and commitment to good health, and were proud of our achievements. Hiding trends by blinkering our health and welfare statistics looks very shifty, Mr Hockey. Anti-Australian bias The ideology revealed here in this budget reveals an anti-Australian people, pro-business bias. The only future being protected in this budget is fossil fuel and big miners. By savaging the most needy in society, this government clearly ignores the evidence that the supposed "trickle-down effect" does not work “ it only widens the gap between the haves and have-nots. It will expand Australia's underclass. The government has demonstrated a total disregard of the wealth of evidence about nation building. Social science clearly shows that deprivation of opportunities to contribute to society sets people up for a lifetime of social exclusion. Similarly, public health evidence shows this sets people up for a life of poor health. Those individuals loose out, and society looses out, by shifting their potential productive contribution to one of ultimate dependence. Furthermore, their plight negatively impacts upon their family, and drags them down as well. The ripple effect is very powerful within those inner rings. A few pennies saved multiplies enormously in the costs, financial and human. So these budget moves are dangerously flawed in the human toll and economic argument. A budget designed to build a strong future for Australia would invest in its people, in their health and education, and promote a healthy world in which current and future generations can productively contribute. Instead, the budget destines us all to a world of worsening disasters, greater inequities and the social consequences that inevitably arise. This budget not only broke our trust, but subjects Australia to a trajectory of increasing hardship and ill-health. The ramifications of their systematic destruction of civil society will be felt for generations to come. Dr Liz Hanna is a fellow at the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health at ANU, and president of the Climate and Health Alliance.