The health impacts of Australia’s unprecedented bushfire season are being felt well beyond the fire grounds, ABC Health and Wellbeing has reported.
One of the main issues is respiratory problems, unsurprising given that bushfire smoke has wreathed towns and major cities for weeks, sending air pollution levels skyrocketing.
Doctors throughout the areas impacted by smoke have reported an increase in breathing problems, including coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath. One Western Sydney GP, Dr Tim Senior of Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation medical clinic, has reported that those affected include people with no prior history of a respiratory condition, some of whom are now having to start using inhalers.
The other health impact is a rise in anxiety, together with it’s associated physical health effects. This is felt most acutely by people in areas close to fires or experiencing poor air quality, but can even affect those watching media reports of the ongoing emergency.
Dr Senior claims that his patients have been particularly affected because many of them do not have access to quality housing or air conditioning, making recommendations to stay inside to avoid smoke meaningless.
The problem highlights not only that Australia’s healthcare system is ill-equipped to meet the increasing challenges posed by extreme weather, the ABC reports, but also that healthcare alone will be unable to deliver quality outcomes without policies to ensure an environment in which people can stay healthy.
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Source: ABC News