Is enough attention given to climate change in health service planning? An Australian perspective

Anthony John Burton, Hilary Bambrick, Sharon Friel

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    BACKGROUND: Within an Australian context, the medium to long-term health impacts of climate change are likely to be wide, varied and amplify many existing disorders and health inequities. How the health system responds to these challenges will be best considered in the context of existing health facilities and services. This paper provides a snapshot of the understanding that Australian health planners have of the potential health impacts of climate change.METHODS: The first author interviewed (n=16) health service planners from five Australian states and territories using an interpretivist paradigm. All interviews were digitally recorded, key components transcribed and thematically analysed.RESULTS: Results indicate that the majority of participants were aware of climate change but not of its potential health impacts. Despite this, most planners were of the opinion that they would need to plan for the health impacts of climate change on the community.CONCLUSION: With the best available evidence pointing towards there being significant health impacts as a result of climate change, now is the time to undertake proactive service planning that address market failures within the health system. If considered planning is not undertaken then Australian health system can only deal with climate change in an expensive ad hoc, crisis management manner. Without meeting the challenges of climate change to the health system head on, Australia will remain unprepared for the health impacts of climate change with negative consequences for the health of the Australian population.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-8
    JournalGlobal Health Action
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


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