News from the Secretary for June and July 2008,

Climate Change

As doctors we are aware of the importance of climate change  because of the sufferings and  costs of failing to address it.

Australia’s National Greenhouse Accounts show that Australia’s greenhouse emissions in 2007 were around 585 million tonnes or 106 per cent of 1990 levels. This is an increase of 1.6 per cent from 2006. The largest single source of direct emissions is the electricity, gas and water economic sector, accounting for 35.5 per cent of Australia’s emissions, while Australia’s primary industries (agriculture, forestry and fishing and mining) accounting for 32.7 per cent of direct emissions. The report is available at http://www.climatechange.gov.au/inventory/

I report to you that Doctors for the Environment Australia expects to widen its educative role on this and other issues by working with Medical Observer magazine. This will greatly increase our contact with the general practitioners of Australia. Details are given below. Our educational role will also be important at the WONCA conference in Melbourne, early October (also see below)

Collaboration between DEA and Medical Observer magazine

Medical Observer magazine is a weekly newspaper published by CMPMedica Australia Pty Ltd which is sent to Australian general practitioners. It has a circulation of around 24000 and boasts the rare statistic that most of those who receive it actually look through it cover to cover.

On June 13 Medical Observer launched a Green Issue which included articles where DEA members were featured and interviewed. There were articles on DEA’s Climate Change Health Check 2020 report and on DEA initiatives such as GreenClinic and BikeDoctor. A carbon audit offered by a consultancy firm was also promoted and has since generated much interest. Further environmental coverage has followed and this link shows all Medical Observer green articles. http://www.medicalobserver.com.au/green/GreenPage.aspx

The editors at Medical Observer are keen for DEA to be in regular contact with the magazine to provide commentary on matters relating to the environment and health, as well as ideas for articles and personal interest stories looking at ways in which doctors are attempting to minimise their environmental impact. Medical Observer has indicated willingness to aid in the distribution of DEA educational materials and is happy to look at ways of promoting other DEA activities.

Medical Observer’s sustained and multifaceted coverage of issues related to facing the challenges of climate change is heartening and provides DEA with a valuable and important opportunity to communicate our messages to a wide audience hopefully at regular intervals. As we look to establish mutually beneficial arrangement which maintains our organisations independence the management committee would welcome comments from members about any of these issues as well as suggestions for future news articles.
Graeme Horton
Graeme.horton@newcastle.edu.au

DEA workshop at WONCA Conference

Climate change is an urgent and serious threat to global public health. There is a major transformation underway in the health sector with many doctors becoming concerned and wanting to become more involved in finding solutions. Only in recent months, World Health Day focused on climate change as its annual theme, a WONCA environmental special interest group was formed, the RACGP endorsed a report on climate change and health prepared by Doctors for the Environment Australia and the Climate Institute, and in Canada, the Ontario College of Family Physicians has also produced a report on climate change and health. Research into climate change and health is relatively new, and studies on the role of primary health care sector are almost non existent. In our workshop we present four topics by members of the management Committee of the Doctors for the Environment Australia each focusing on different emerging areas, followed by a discussion panel.

1. Climate Change as a Global Public Health Problem. Dr Grant Blashki
2. Environmentally Sustainable Health Care. Dr Graham Horton
3. Medical responses to climate changes: Planning adaptations at multiple levesl . Dr David King
4. The important role of doctors in community campaigns to influence climate change policy - lessons from a successful anti- tobacco and forest protection campaigns Dr Bill Castleden

WONCA will also be the venue for the AGM of Doctors for the Environment It will be at 5.30 pm on Saturday 4 October. During the conference we expect to have a DEA display stand, a focal point for meeting and display of our posters, reports and other material

The 2008 Appeal for funds
The appeal raised about $26,000 for which we are deeply grateful to all who donated. Unfortunately there was a malfunction of the payment system at that time which we could not correct for a while and it is likely that the intent to donate by some members was not followed through. Despite the success of the appeal we do not have sufficient funds to make an appointment on a near full time basis and we will be contacting all members to canvass opinion on raising the membership fee from its very modest level of $42

David Shearman
Hon Secretary