Climate and health news

“Bushfires expose weakness in Australia’s health system”

“Doctors have been left unprepared and climate change has not been considered a health issue.” The Lancet, 18th January 2020 Sophie Cousins reports.

Australia is in the grip of unprecedented bushfires that have affected every state across the country. The threat to lives, homes, and wildlife has already resulted in more than 20 deaths and 2000 homes lost, millions of acres burned, and up to 1 billion animals dead.While

Australia has one of the world’s most robust health-care systems, the crisis has not only left doctors unprepared to deal with the health impacts of climate change, but it has also revealed that the health system was not fully equipped to handle the massive humanitarian impact such a crisis would have on communities.

At the time of writing, dozens of fires continued to burn out of control across large swaths of the country, exposing people to toxic smoke and putting firefighters and rescue workers in grave danger of serious injury and death. For weeks on end, smoke haze has blanketed parts of the country, including Sydney and Canberra, where millions of people live. Air quality in Canberra—which made headlines around the world—reached more than 22 times the hazardous level set by WHO. In Sydney, some suburbs have experienced air quality more than ten times the hazardous limit.

Arnagretta Hunter, a cardiologist in Canberra, told The Lancet she had seen an increase in patients, particularly those with respiratory problems and people with underlying lung and heart problems. She said there had also been an increase in infections including urinary tract infections and skin infections, likely to be attributed to fine particulate matter exposure….