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20 Mar 2019

AMA Position Statement on Environmental Sustainability in Health Care 2019

The AMA is calling on the Australian Government to establish an Australian Sustainable Development Unit (SDU), based on the successful model used in England’s National Health Service (NHS), to coordinate the efforts of hospitals and health services to become more environmentally sustainable.

In 2018, The Lancet estimated that the healthcare system is responsible for seven per cent of Australia’s overall carbon emissions, as well as producing significant amounts of waste and general pollution.

In its new Position Statement on Environmental Sustainability in Health Care 2019, released today, the AMA details the need for an Australian SDU to track progress against sustainability targets and provide advice to health facilities.

“The health of the environment is intrinsically linked with human health,” AMA President, Dr Tony Bartone, said today.

“Climate change is bad for human health. It is linked to deaths from heatwaves, vector-borne diseases including malaria, and mental ill-health.

“Since the establishment of the NHS SDU in 2008, healthcare emissions have dropped by 18.5 per cent, and water usage has dropped by 21 per cent in England.

“A similar body in Australia would help Australian doctors and health administrators to acknowledge the environmental impact of the health sector, and seek to minimise harms wherever possible.

“This will deliver better outcomes for patients, and provide broader social and economic benefits.

“Our new Position Statement also calls on doctors to consider environmental impacts in decision-making, and to educate themselves and their colleagues in how to make their practices more sustainable.

“Overall, what is needed is national leadership to support behavioural change in the health and medical professions.”

The AMA Position Statement on Environmental Sustainability in Health Care 2019 is at https://ama.com.au/position-statement/environmental-sustainability-health-care-2019

20 March 2019

CONTACT:        John Flannery          02 6270 5477 / 0419 494 761


Published: 20 Mar 2019