Health workers and local authorities throughout the country are being encouraged to play their part in tackling the health effects of climate change, Public Health Minister Dawn Primarolo announced

The 'Climate Change guidance documents' issued today provide guidance on tackling climate change and promoting sustainable communities, in order to further improve health and reduce health inequalities. The aim is to help health workers plan how to mitigate and adapt to climate change, for example the guidance documents give advice on how they can:

- design buildings that stay cool in the summer, warm in the winter and flood-resilient;
- reduce their carbon footprint and encourage others to do so;
- protect the public further through continuing public awareness campaigns such as 'The Heatwave Plan'; and
- raise awareness of climate change and the health effects.

The guidance documents underline that the UK needs to address the threat of climate change and adapt to it. Local health professionals are asked to consider the health impacts of climate change and are informed of how societies can adapt to the most severe impacts - such as heatwaves and flooding, with adequate planning.

It is also about minimising the future effects of climate change by reducing emissions, both in the workplace and at home.

Ms Primarolo said:

"Climate change is a real threat and we must do everything we can to reduce its effects - for example by reducing our carbon footprint - but we must also learn how to adapt to it.

"Health professionals are key to communicating the health risks of climate change and I would urge them to play their part.

"The UK Government is leading the way in persuading the world that we must all turn our attention to the health effects of climate change - the WHO recently congratulated us for winning the minds of other countries."

The guidance documents are published two months after the Department of Health and the Health Protection Agency published the 'Health Effects of Climate Change' which outlined some of the effects that climate change could have on the health of UK citizens if no action is taken.

The UK is leading the way in considering the health effects of climate change. At the WHO Executive Board Meeting in January, the UK put forward a resolution on the impacts of climate change on health and health systems which received overwhelming support from other countries. The WHO Director General congratulated the UK on achieving an unprecedented level of consensus. This will now go forward for consideration by the World Health Assembly in May.

The Department Health is already taking action and has been working with other departments on the development of the Adaptation Policy Framework, which will be published later this year, setting out the Government's programme of action on climate change impacts.

Notes

1. For a copy of the guidance, go to here.

2. The joint DH and HPA report 'Health Effects of Climate Change in the UK' which was published on 12th Febraury 2008 can be found here.

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