Australian news, and some related international items

South Australia Health now dealing with infectious disease threats increased due to climate change

Disease threat forces SA Health to prioritise adapting to climate change

HEALTH threats from extreme weather events and diseases spread by mosquitoes have prompted SA Health to prioritise adapting to climate change in a new blueprint.  Matt Smith

Chief medical officer Paddy Phillips has told The Advertiser the frequency and severity of heatwaves and bushfires, and the increased risk of the spread of disease by insects and bugs, meant climate change threatened the wellbeing of South Australians.

His warning comes as SA Health released its draft State Public Health Plan for the period from 2019-2024. Professor Phillips said multiple government agencies needed to consider the impact of climate change when developing policies and strategies to manage and prevent public health risks.It should also be front of mind when agencies assessed the suitability of health infrastructure and assets.

“Variations in our climate have increased the frequency and severity of weather events such as floods, droughts, bushfires, storms (and) periods of extreme heat, as well as the spread of vector-borne diseases,” Prof Phillips said.

“These events threaten the wellbeing of our communities, especially in vulnerable populations.”

Increases in diseases transmitted by mosquitoes, sandflies, triatomine bugs, blackflies, ticks, tsetse flies, mites, snails and lice have in recent years been linked to climate change on Australia’s east coast.

The draft report, that has been published for public consultation, lists four priorities:

CREATE healthier neighbourhoods and communities.

PROTECT against public and environmental health risks and adapt to climate change.

PREVENT chronic disease, communicable disease and injury.

FURTHER develop and maintain the statewide public health system.

Health and Wellbeing Minister Stephen Wade said he would review the plan, which was drawn up on the watch of the former Labor state government, to determine if any additional issues needed to be addressed. Mr Wade welcomed the inclusion of climate change as a priority. “It is prudent for public health plans to consider the impact of climate change,” he said.

SA Greens leader Mark Parnell said a suite of measures, including better town planning and the design of individual homes to be more resilient to changing climatic conditions, was needed.

That would help South Australia adapt to the challenge of climate change.

“We know that with a hotter climate comes more health problems including increased hospitalisations and premature deaths from increasing heatwaves,” he said.

April 27, 2018 - Posted by | climate change - global warming, health, South Australia

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