A new report shows how climate change will impact on New Zealander’s health over the next 50-100 years, and makes the case for better preparation.
“Our climate is changing, and how this impacts on people’s health will also change. We need our health system to be better prepared to deal with increased temperatures and more extreme weather events,” Associate Minister for Health Julie Anne Genter said today.
The report was commissioned by the Ministry of Health and published by the Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR).
“The risks outlined in this report show why we need to act to reduce climate pollution now, as well as prepare for the level of climate change that is already set to happen.
“The flooding and evacuation of Edgecumbe caused serious disruption to people’s lives. Already this year we have seen how a storm like cyclone Fehi caused a state of emergency in Buller and Dunedin.
“Today’s report maps out where the problems will be. Allergens and irritants in air, extreme weather events, ultra-violet solar radiation, and vector-borne, water-borne and infectious diseases might all increase in the coming decades and they have the potential to impact on our health and the health of our loved ones.
“The spread of infectious disease, particularly in our water sources, is of concern and needs greater attention.
“The Ministry of Health will be working with DHBs, many of which are already doing a lot of work on this, to become more sustainable and reduce their carbon footprints. The Ministry has asked ESR to provide scientific advice on how the health sector can adapt to climate change.
“I’m really encouraged to see greater work happening on preparing for how climate change will affect us. Later this year the Heat Health Plan Guide will be published.
“Climate change is one of the biggest threats to society this century but reports like todays will ensure New Zealand is better prepared for dealing with future challenges,” Ms Genter said.
Ministry of Health New Zealand