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Doctors for the Environment Australia: achievements and lessons learned

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Political ideology has proved to be the greatest obstacle to DEA’s ability to reduce the health hazards of climate change

Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA), created in 2002, aimed “to utilise the skills of members of the medical profession to address the ill health resulting from damage to the natural environment at local, national and global levels”.1 This agenda was overwhelming, and with humanity’s astonishing failure to stop the rise of greenhouse gas emissions and the gathering pace of climate change, DEA has focused on the medical threats of climate change. As a medical organisation, DEA was a frontrunner in its forthright recognition of this problem, which the World Health Organization now regards as the defining health issue of our time. DEA maintains that the established medical colleges and organisations need to speak out more strongly about the health hazards of climate change.

Since our inception we have had committed assistance from many distinguished medical and scientific colleagues. The late Tony McMichael was a founding member and tireless supporter of DEA with his advice and valuable long-term involvement with students and politicians. He helped us with policy and landmark publications. DEA and global public health owe him a huge debt.2

In 2009, the DEA made a policy decision to advocate and educate on the…