Public Health Wales has said that it welcomes the UN climate summit’s decision to put a focus on health, with work inside and outside the organisation taking place to become more sustainable and reduce the impact that climate change has on the health of the Welsh population.
The health impacts of climate change is one of Public Health Wales’ strategic priorities, as it looks to support NHS Wales’ goal of achieving net zero by 2030. Through the strategy that it is taking, as well as research and health impact assessments, work is ongoing to reduce environmental impacts on the planet, with climate change threatening most of the key ingredients to good health such as clean air, safe drinking water, nutritious food, and safe shelter.
Following the work that Public Health Wales has done this year, the importance of tackling climate change has been highlighted by the fact that some communities – including those that are made up of households with low income – are more at risk of climate impacts than others. It has also been noted that these effects are likely to worsen Wales’ health inequalities.
Public Health Wales’ CEO, Dr Tracey Cooper, said:
“We know that working together we can all do something to support a greener future with the health benefits that it can bring. We can and must act now to reduce the impact of a changing climate on our physical and mental health and wellbeing.”
One way that environmental sustainability across Wales’ care providers is being improved is through the use of local champions. These champions are working alongside Public Health Wales and primary care providers to improve the sustainability of day-to-day practices, which is part of the Greener Primary Care Wales Framework and Award Scheme. Through this work, GP surgeries, community pharmacies, and dental and optometry practices have changed their working to reduce environmental impacts, including using the following measures:
- Using solar panels
- Reducing plastic waste
- Switching to LED lighting
The emissions that are produced by pieces of single-use equipment in microbiology labs have also been identified as areas for improvement, with findings relating to this being shared across the wider health sector.
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