Australia | Role of Environmental Health in the World Congress on Public Health

Protecting our environment and responding to the health impacts of climate change were among the top issues discussed during the 15th World Congress on Public Health. The event took place from April 3-7 in Melbourne, Australia. Held every 2-4 years by the World Federation of Public Health Associations (WFPHA), the Congress serves as an international forum for the exchange of knowledge and experiences on key public health issues with the aim of contributing towards protecting and promoting public health at national and global levels.

Fiona Armstrong, Executive Director of the Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA), HCWH’s strategic partner in Australia, and CAHA member Grace Fitzgerald ran a workshop on “The role of public health professionals in advocating for policy change: a case study”. This session presented climate change framed as a health issue, and explored the ways in which health professionals can act to use their influence. Click here for Armstrong and Fitzgerald's workshop slides.

In addition, Fiona Armstrong and Carol Behne, Sustainable Healthcare Project Officer at CAHA, participated in a session on Climate Change. Armstrong presented on CAHA's campaign for a National strategy on Climate, Health and Wellbeing, including progress to date and future plans. Behne discussed about the Global Green and Healthy Hospitals (GGHH) program and its objective to protect public health through environmental sustainability in healthcare. They shared cases studies from GGHH members that demonstrated the mitigation, adaptation and leadership efforts possible from the health sector in addressing climate change. Click here to see Armstrong’s presentation and click here for Behne’s presentation.

"Rubbish is a resource, not waste"

As part of the Congress, Western Health, a member of GGHH, hosted a field trip demonstrating their work to improve environmental sustainability and protect public health. Delegates from Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia and England participated in the visit to learn how Western Health is planning to achieve their strategic aim of “being socially responsible and using resources sustainably.” They toured the facility and its features such as their waste/recycling segregation areas, organic waste dehydrator, and e-water taps (electrolyzed water for cleaning/sanitizing without chemicals).

Catherine O’Shea, Sustainability Officer at Western Health, left the group with a powerful message to take home: "Rubbish is a resource, not waste".For more information on this event, click here.

Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Global Health

During the event, Dr. Peter Orris, Senior Adviser to HCWH, received the Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Global Health in recognition of Dr. Orris’ work in the context of the WFPHA’s Environmental Health Working Group and in campaigns to improve environmental health. For more information on the award Dr. Orris received, click here.

The Lancet Planetary Health

During the Congress, the Lancet launched a new journal on Planetary Health, which will join The Lancet Public Health and The Lancet Global Health. It will provide a third pillar in an open-access program covering the interplay between health and the determinants of health in our living and physical world.

“A new reality is emerging. Planetary health is an exciting opportunity for finding alternative solutions for a better and more resilient future. The Lancet Planetary Health invites you to submit the best (and still missing) scientific evidence that can strengthen the case for policy action and can help write a new narrative for planetary health”, says the report. To download it, click here.