no clean bill of health

In a speech tonight to mark World Health Day, Dr Grant Blashki says climate change is already having direct and indirect effects on Australia’s health, and the problems are set to get worse.

His call for the medical profession to treat climate change as a health issue and address it as such is being echoed today around the country and the world, as the World Health Organisation chose “protecting health from climate change” as its theme.

Dr Blashki, a senior research fellow in the University of Melbourne’s Primary Care Research Unit, says general practitioners and other health care professionals will need to develop strategies to help patients deal with concerns. He said patients who came to him with depression or anxiety were increasingly citing climate change news as something they were having trouble coping with.

“These people tend to have a low threshold to taking on worries. When they pick up the paper and see a small part of Antarctica disintegrating, they take it on board,” he said. “They pick up on the negative things going on in the world. It comes down to maintaining hope, to get people motivated, not despairing. Action is a great stress reliever.”

Sydney Morning Herald, 7 Apr 2008