New Zealand public health doctors are warning there will be
severe health impacts from Climate Change and are calling for
urgent action from all levels of society.
The New Zealand College of Public Health Medicine says that
climate change is already contributing to the global burden of
disease and premature death, but much worse is coming.
"Human-caused climate change is a serious threat to health and
as difficult as it might be, we need to take urgent action now as
individuals, health professionals and at governmental level," says
College President Dr Julia Peters.
"Climate change will almost certainly lead to food and water
shortages, increased mental health issues, more injury and illness,
and more heat related deaths and illness from extreme weather. It
will also probably cause more mosquito borne diseases, skin cancer,
cardio-respiratory disease and toxic shellfish poisoning, to name
just a few," says Dr Peters.
"As is frequently the case, the health of New Zealand's poorest
will suffer most from climate change. In New Zealand, Māori and
Pacific peoples, and lower socio economic groups will be by far the
worst hit, seriously impacting health equity in the immediate
future and for generations to come.
"In addition, many populated areas of the world will be unable
to support human health and well-being and New Zealand is likely to
have increased climate refugee and migrant populations as a
The College, which has formally released its Climate Change
Policy Statement, is calling for concerted action from the public,
institutions and governments to address climate change across the
"This would be a win-win approach. Not only could we avert some
of the health problems heading towards us because of Climate
Change, we could also see many health benefits. Changes that
lead to reduced emissions are likely to improve levels of obesity,
heart disease, cancer, Type 2 diabetes, thereby improving
population health and saving scarce health funds.
"All of us can take actions that benefit the environment whether
it is leaving the private motor vehicle at home or increasing the
energy efficiency of our own homes. Health and other
institutions can take steps to reduce their carbon footprint and
the government also needs to take steps to establish more ambitious
goals and targets for reduced carbon emissions."
For further comment please call Dr Julia Peters on 022 054
The NZCPHM Climate Change Policy
Statement and its supplements are available on the Policy and