Health Care

Asia | Green Hospitals Conference 2017

The 2017 Green Hospitals Asia Conference will take place in Taipei, Taiwan on October 20 and 21, 2017. The conference will bring together health systems, health organizations, and hospitals from across the region to tackle the role of health care in addressing environmental and public health issues.

The conference will gather participants from across the region and focus on how the health sector can lessen its carbon footprint through sustainability measures in the following areas: Leadership, Energy, Pharmaceuticals, and Procurement.

This year’s conference will be organized in partnership with the Health Promotion Administration of Taiwan’s Ministry of Health and Welfare, the Taiwan Society of Health Promoting Hospitals, and Buddhist Tzu Chi Medical Foundation.

Fostering Low-Carbon

Health Care The Conference’s theme “Fostering Low-Carbon Health Care” expands on previous years’ focus, challenging the health sector to take a leadership role in addressing the public health impacts of climate change.

Working with government and intergovernmental agencies, GGHH promotes the transformation of hospitals and health centers into low-carbon facilities. This year’s conference will highlight how to achieve this through green procurement, safer chemicals, and investing in renewable energy.


The conference aims to provide participants:

  1. Knowledge of best practices in health care based on the ten achievable goals of the Global Green and Healthy Hospitals Agenda
  2. Access to online platforms, tools, and resources
  3. Information on GGHH Challenges on Energy and Waste
  4. Opportunity to network with experts and hospitals practicing and advocating the GGHH Agenda


The conference will gather participants from:

  1. Governments and Intergovernmental bodies
  2. Health Care Facilities, Hospitals and Health Care Systems
  3. Health Promoting Hospitals network
  4. Professional Organizations Civil Society
  5. Other interested stakeholder organizations and individuals


Topics range from climate –adaptation, mitigation and resilience and health care leadership. Among the ten GGHH Agenda, priority and focus will be given on Leadership, Energy, Purchasing and Chemicals.

Experts will be coming from Taiwan, USA, India, Philippines, Germany, Malaysia and China.


October 19, Thursday

  1. Global Green and Healthy Hospitals members and potential members’ meeting

October 20, Friday

  1. Health Promotion Administration and Taiwan Society of Health Promoting Hospitals to open event
  2. Plenary Session on Procurement, Pharmaceuticals
  3. Parallel Workshops on GGHH Goals

October 21, Saturday

  1. Hospital Tour – Taipei Tzu Chi Hospital
  2. Plenary Session on Energy and Leadership
  3. Parallel Workshops on GGHH Goals Introduction of GGHH Challenges on Energy and Waste

New conference logo

This year, the Conference launches a new logo that reflects GGHH’s vision of building a community of green and healthy hospitals and health systems that openly collaborate and share experiences with one another. Inspired by Asia’s diverse cultures, the logo represents how exchanges between hospitals across the region enrich the global environmental health movement.

Event Contact

Faye Ferrer, Coordinator, Global Green and Healthy Hospitals: [email protected]

August 31, 2017Global

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Global Mercury Treaty Enters into Force

Today is a historic day. The Minamata Convention on Mercury, a global treaty that will phase out mercury-based medical devices by 2020, enters into force.

Thanks to the tireless work of individuals and organizations around the world, today we celebrate a watershed moment in our global movement for environmental health and justice. Health Care Without Harm has played an important role in this achievement. Starting with one thermometer in one Boston hospital nearly 20 years ago, the mercury-free health care campaign has shown us that by holding ourselves to “do no harm” and by leveraging our collective influence, we can change the way the world thinks about the the environment and our health. 

There is still work to be done. Hospitals and health systems in many developing countries still need to phase out mercury-based medical devices before 2020. Meanwhile, coal-fired power plants remain the greatest source of mercury emissions in the United States and second greatest source worldwide. Using our success with mercury as a springboard, we need to now focus our efforts on expanding renewable energy, detoxing our supply chain, and examining the health impacts of our industrial footprint in the communities we serve so that health care can continue to lead society in understanding and solving ongoing global environmental health threats.

For nearly two decades, mercury represented our understanding of health care’s negative contribution to environmental health. Today, because of you, the entry into force of the Minamata Convention represents the change we can make together in creating an environmentally healthy and just world.

Best wishes,

Gary Cohen

Founder and President

Lessons in Forging Global Change

In a Stanford Social Innovation Review article, Josh Karliner, Gary Cohen, and Peter Orris reflect on the history of the two-decade campaign to eliminate mercury from health care and the lessons learned in creating large-scale social change.



Photo 1: "I got screened" Campaign, Faye V. Ferrer. HCWH Asia

Photo 2: Digital thermometers at the Hospital de Niños in Córdoba, Argentina. Salud sin Daño

August 16, 2017Global

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Interactive Tool for Bold Climate Action

The U.S. Health Care Climate Council recently released a new tool that visually demonstrates climate impacts across a hospital.

The “Climate Action: A Playbook for Hospitals” is an interactive tool that also highlights examples of Health Care Climate Council members’ solutions that are improving climate and health, and saving money too.

Through the playbook, the U.S.' Health Care Climate Council aims to inspire all hospitals to work together to decarbonize the U.S. health sector. The sector is responsible for approximately 8 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, and an average hospital uses twice the energy of an office building of the same size.

Explore the playbook, and download tools, including a PowerPoint, the PDF version, or a JPEG of a particular section. Use it to educate and inspire your fellow employees, the leadership within your health system, and your community. And visit the site regularly for new solutions from leading health care systems across the country.

This interactive site is also an effective tool for educating the public about health threats posed by climate change. 

Access the Climate Action Playbook

About the U.S.' Health Care Climate Council 

In an effort to build a unified voice among hospitals committed to addressing climate change, Health Care Without Harm - US and Canada established the U.S.'s Health Care Climate Council. The Council’s mission is to amplify public and private responses to climate change. Learn more

August 8, 2017Global

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Latin America | Healthy Hospitals Conference 2017

Registration for the 3rd GGHH Latin American Conference is now open. The event will take place in Sao Paulo, Brazil, from 8-10 October 2017, in conjunction with the 10th Brazilian Healthy Hospitals Seminar organized annually by HCWH’s Strategic Partner in Brazil, Projeto Hospitais Saudáveis. The conference will include speakers from Latin America and around the world presenting the latest research, strategies, and projects related to the conference theme “Strengthening Healthcare: Leadership for a Sustainable and Healthy Future”.

The main objective of the Seminar will be to educate, motivate and influence the healthcare sector (doctors, nurses, professors, researchers, environmental managers, architects and engineers, representatives of environmental organizations) to move toward sustainable health care and take a leadership role to reduce their environmental footprint.

Click here to register


August 7, 2017Global

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Australia | Health Care Voices Heard – Political Parties Adopt Climate Policy Framework With a Focus on Health!

Recently members from the Australian political parties, Greens and Labor, committed to implement a Climate, Health and Well-Being policy. Watch Labor MPs Catherine King and Mark Butler explain why it is so important to take action on this issue.

This is a huge step toward addressing the devastating effects of climate change on health that Australia is already witnessing, such as thunderstorm asthma, worsening heatwaves, and more extreme weather events.

Last month, health professionals launched the Our Climate, Our Health campaign in the Australian Parliament House. They asked Members of Parliament (MP) to support the Framework for a National Strategy on Climate, Health and Well-Being and take action on an issue that is already affecting millions of people in Australia and worldwide. Fortunately, members from the political parties, Greens and Labor, committed to implement a Climate, Health and Well-Being policy.

The Framework was developed following a year-long national consultation to identify stakeholders’ priorities and concerns regarding the health impacts of climate change.

The Framework for a National Strategy on Climate, Health and Well-being for Australia provides a roadmap to support the Commonwealth Government in taking a leadership role in protecting the health and well-being of Australian communities from climate change, and in fulfilling its international obligations under the Paris Agreement. Many organizations, including the Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA, HCWH’s Partner in Australia), have supported the development of the Framework over the last 18 months.

For more information on the Framework, click here.

August 1, 2017Global

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Australia | Leading Health Experts Launch a Framework for a National Climate and Health Strategy


Source: Climate and Health Alliance

In a world first initiative, a coalition of leading health experts and organizations, along with federal parliamentarians, launched a Framework for a National Strategy on Climate, Health and Well-being for Australia.

Organizations including the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (ACEM), Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA), the Public Health Association Australia (PHAA), Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA), Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF), Australian College of Health Service Managers (ACHSM), and the Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA, HCWH’s Partner in Australia) have supported the development of the Framework over the last 18 months.

The Framework follows a year-long national consultation to identify stakeholders’ priorities and concerns regarding the health impacts of climate change and entails seven Areas of Policy Action, some of which include phasing out coal, greening hospitals, and a coordinated approach to managing the health consequences of extreme weather events, such as heat stress and thunderstorm asthma. Implementation of a national strategy will require federal, state/territory and local government actions, and cross-portfolio cooperation, involving health, energy and climate/environment portfolios working together.

Executive Director of the Climate and Health Alliance Fiona Armstrong said: "The Framework provides a comprehensive roadmap to assist Australia in addressing the significant risks that climate change poses to the health and well-being of the community, and in meeting its obligations to citizen’s ‘right to health’ under the Paris Agreement."

Armstrong added, “The launch of the framework was a success.We secured tri-partisan support for the launch of the document (…). But in even more exciting news, the Australian Labor Party has announced, in government, they will develop and implement a National Strategy on Climate, Health and Well-being for Australia, based on the Framework we have developed”.

Armstrong explained: “This means we have achieved one of our key campaign goals (securing the support of one of the major political parties for the National Strategy) well ahead on schedule (we had hoped to realize this by the end of 2017) - and on the day of the Framework Launch.”

According to HCWH’s President and Founder, Gary Cohen, "in many parts of the world, hospitals and health services are increasingly showing the way toward a low-carbon future. A national policy framework, such as the one proposed for Australia, can help support these efforts, and help accelerate the roll out of low-carbon healthcare while supporting community resilience and well-being. Transitioning away from fossil fuels is preventative medicine on a grand scale."

Results from this process demonstrate the almost unanimous agreement among health professionals that there is urgent need for federal leadership and action on climate. Health groups also offer their commitment to supporting the government and political parties in making the strategy a reality.

For more information and to download the Framework, click here.

Media coverage:

June 21, 2017Global

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Blog | African Hospitals Are Becoming Leaders on Environmental Practices

By: Susan Wilburn, Sustainability Director, Global Green and Healthy Hospitals, HCWH; and Ruth Stringer International Science and Policy Coordinator.

The annual meeting of the African regional health care waste management and mercury elimination project was held 1-3 June in Istanbul, Turkey in the offices of the UNDP. It was a great to have the team together for a very productive meeting and collaborative atmosphere for the exchange of ideas and solutions to address the common barriers to the successful management of health care waste and elimination of mercury-containing measuring device.

The project is being organized by United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the World Health Organization and Health Care Without Harm. The aim of the project, which will run until 2020, is to disseminate non-incineration waste treatment and substitute mercury containing medical devices in four African countries: Ghana, Madagascar, Tanzania and Zambia.

The regional and country teams met to review accomplishments of the past six months and review work plans for the next six months. The annual board chaired by the manager of the UNDP Istanbul Regional Hub (IRH), met and approved reports and the budget for the remainder of 2017 and 2018.

Four participants from each of the four participating countries presented their progress since the inception meeting last September. In addition to representatives of the Ministries of Health, Ministry of Environment, UNDP and technical expert from the four project countries, the Director of the Scientific Practical Institution of the MOH responsible for a similar project in Kyrgyzstan participated and shared good practice examples, curricula development and successful installation of autoclaves to treat health care waste.

A ‘Green bag lunch’ was organized for all UNDP staff in the Istanbul office with a program highlighting the African project and the collaboration between the project and the joint work of UNDP and HCWH for sustainable procurement in the health sector. All of the country partners requested additional training from UNDP and HCWH to raise awareness of the opportunity that procurement presents for integrating sustainability criteria.

The lunchtime seminar opened with the showing of HCWH’s 20th anniversary video followed by the manager of the IRH thanking HCWH for putting the health, environmental and human aspects into context for the following presentations.

On the third and final day, the group traveled together to tour a large central waste management facility with autoclaves to treat the health care waste from Istanbul hospitals. We were privileged to visit the famous ancient Mosque of Suleyman in Istanbul during the holy month of Ramadan, and to join thousands of people in the iftar evening meal at sunset.

Now we are entering the practical phase of the project where all of the planning starts to become concrete. As the Minamata Convention on Mercury comes into force in August of this year, the four countries will lead the continent in demonstrating best available technologies and best environmental practices. Non-mercury medical devices will be delivered in September, and swapped for the mercury containing ones currently in use.

Early next year, the installation of autoclaves to treat infectious health care waste to prevent the production of dioxins and other Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) will begin. In addition, Tanzania is constructing a biodigester for organic waste at one of its hospitals, which will dispose of the waste safely, and has the side benefit of generating methane gas that can be used as a fuel.

All of the hospitals involved in the project receive membership to Global Green and Healthy Hospitals, will soon be using GGHH Connect and are sharing their experiences in webinars organized by HCWH’s strategic partner in South Africa, groundWork.

June 12, 2017Global

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Health Care Leaders Denounce Paris Withdrawal

Climate change has been called “the biggest global-health threat of the 21st century,” so it’s no surprise that U.S. health care systems, associations, and clinicians joined the growing chorus of voices expressing dismay at Trump’s announcement to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement.

Health care providers understand the dangers climate change poses to human health, hospital infrastructure, and their bottom line.

Despite expressions of disappointment and concern, health system leaders voiced confidence in their ability to forge ahead, recommitting to address climate change and protect the health of their patients and communities.

“The good news is that progress on climate solutions will continue to accelerate as cities, hospitals, schools, and businesses are increasingly showing the way toward a low-carbon future,” said Gary Cohen, Health Care Without Harm’s CEO and founder.

Read our full blog, featuring powerful statements from the health care sector, and join us as well as the thousands of local and state leaders and businesses, in taking action to protect the health of our people and planet.

June 9, 2017Global

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New World Bank Report Calls for Health Sector Leadership on Climate

Released at World Health Assembly, “Climate-Smart Health Care” Outlines Low-Carbon and Resilience Strategies for the Health Sector

Geneva-- The World Bank Group’s health and climate directors released a report today establishing a new framework for health systems in every country to become leaders in addressing climate change. The report is a joint production with Health Care Without Harm (1).

In its title, the report coins the term Climate-Smart Health Care, an approach that sets forth both low-carbon and resilience strategies. These strategies are designed for the development community, ministries of health, hospitals and health systems to deploy while addressing the health impacts of climate change.

James Close, Director of the World Bank’s Climate Change Group and Olusoji Adeyi Director of Health, Nutrition, and Population at the Bank jointly write: "The health sector has a substantial role to play in both mitigating climate change through the adoption of low-carbon strategies, while also building resilience to climate impact."

While few countries have undertaken healthcare carbon footprint measurements, and further study is necessary to more comprehensively quantify healthcare’s contribution to climate change, the report makes a rough, first-ever estimate of health care’s global emissions. It conservatively finds that health care generates 5% of world-wide greenhouse gas emissions, amounting to 2.6 billion metric tons of CO2e in 2011.

"By reducing their emissions and becoming more resilient, health systems in every country can become leaders in contributing to both health and climate solutions," says Josh Karliner, an International Director at Health Care Without Harm and one of the report’s authors.

Key findings include:

  • Health ministries can invest in affordable carbon reducing, health-focused initiatives in renewable energy, energy efficiency, local transport systems, sustainable and safe water use, safe waste disposal, and the purchase of locally and sustainably produced food.
  • There are several co-benefits to climate-smart healthcare, including improved health through a reduction in environmental pollution and climate change, as well as more efficient, less costly health systems and stronger local economies.
  • A climate-smart approach, including system design that decentralizes care, relying more on both prevention and telemedicine, can provide effective, cheaper care.
  • In low-resource, energy-poor settings, powering healthcare with low-carbon solutions can enhance access to care, contributing to climate resilience and the advancement of universal healthcare for the poor and most vulnerable.
  • Development institutions can support and fund health systems and sector actors to adopt key elements of climate-smart healthcare.
  • Development institutions can advocate that industries in the healthcare supply chain develop low-carbon and environmentally sustainable manufacturing and distribution practices.
  • Health systems can build climate resilience through investment in two areas:
    • Health system strengthening that prepares for the climate change’s environmental and health impacts; and
    • disease-specific responses to address the changing burden of disease related to climate change.

“Ultimately, climate-smart healthcare will strengthen health sectors and communities by ensuring access to clean and independent energy, safe water, clean transport, and clean waste disposal mechanisms,” says Timothy Bouley, Health and Climate Specialist at the World Bank. “It will stimulate the development and supply of sustainable products, while also preparing the sector for a future of known and unknown health-related climate hazards.”

HCWH will continue to work in collaboration with the World Bank Group to develop and implement Climate-Smart Healthcare in institutions, in countries, and with health systems around the world.

Download Report

Blog Post | Connecting Climate Change and Health for Better Development

Co-authors: Olusoji O. Adeyi, World Bank


Climate change is already having real, measurable impacts on human health, and those impacts are expected to grow. Low- and middle-income countries are seeing the worst effects as they are most vulnerable to climate shifts and least able to adapt given weak health systems and poor infrastructure. The good news is that the cumulative impacts of climate change on health have been extensively discussed for decades and understanding is growing.

Over the past three years, the WBG has worked in consultation with experts and development partners to establish a major program addressing climate change and health.

The program has been built with two primary considerations in mind: (i) establishing a knowledge base to inform development lending and (ii) ensuring this work directly supports our clients. 

We have also undertaken a new analysis of climate connections to the health sector. Working with leading partners in the space, like Health Care Without Harm, we have uncovered an enormous opportunity both for our own portfolio and for others designing and operating health systems. This new report, Climate-Smart Healthcare: Low Carbon and Resilience Opportunities for the Health Sector, is a first of its kind, linking climate change, the health sector, and development. It describes in-depth approaches for building and sustaining health systems that are prepared for climate change and provides tools and resources to help practitioners turn this knowledge into action.

Read the blog post

Webinar Presents New Report: Climate-Smart Health Care: Low-Carbon and Resilience Strategies for the Health Sector

On June 27/28, report authors Timothy Bouley (Global Health and Environmental Specialist, World Bank), Josh Karliner (International Director of Program and Strategy, HCWH), and Susan Wilburn (Sustainability Director, Global Green and Healthy Hospitals) participated on a webinar during which they presented an overview of the report as well as shared tools, resources, and opportunities for on the ground implementation of climate-smart health care by hospitals, health systems, and health care facilities around the globe.



(1) The report, Climate-Smart Health Care: Low-Carbon and Resilience Strategies for the Health Sector, is a joint production of the World Bank Group (Health Nutrition and Population Global Practice, and Climate Change Cross-Cutting Solutions Area), Health Care Without Harm and Mobilizing Action Toward Climate Change and Health. Six HCWH staff and senior advisers are among the nine authors.

May 30, 2017Global

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Global Treaty Against Mercury Pollution Enters into Force

On May 18th, the world took an historic step forward in the fight against mercury pollution as the European Union and seven of its member States ratified the Minamata Convention on Mercury, thereby exceeding the 50-party requirement for the treaty to enter into force. 

The Minamata Convention tackles primary mining of mercury, mercury use, trade, emissions and disposal, and the phase-out of mercury products such as thermometers and blood pressure devices.

Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) has led the work to substitute these mercury-based medical devices with accurate, affordable alternatives for the past 15 years. HCWH has worked with thousands of hospitals and health systems, dozens of ministries of health and several United Nations organizations to advance the cause of mercury-free health care, while also successfully advocating for strong measures to phase-out these devices via the Minamata Convention.

“This work began with a single thermometer in a single hospital and grew into a worldwide initiative to align health care practices with a global environmental health imperative,” said Josh Karliner, an International Director with Health Care Without Harm.   “The health sector has led by example in dozens of countries, substituting mercury-based medical devices with safer alternatives, and helping forge a path for the Minamata Convention to protect public health from mercury pollution.”

In health care settings, mercury may be released from thermometers, blood pressure devices, gastrointestinal and other mercury containing medical products, as well as dental amalgam.

"Over the past fifteen years, health professionals around the world committed to eliminating mercury-containing products as the only way to avoid their polluting presence in the environment and people’s bodies," said Veronica Odriozola, Executive Director of HCWH in Latin America, and one of the leaders of this effort.   "We are pleased to see more than 50 of the world’s governments endorsing efforts undertaken by so many of our health care colleagues to rid the world of mercury pollution by ratifying the treaty."

“The health sector has led by example in dozens of countries, substituting mercury-based medical devices with safer alternatives, and helping forge a path for the Minamata Convention to protect public health from mercury pollution," said Josh Karliner, International Director of Program and Strategy, HCWH

HCWH worked closely with both the World Health Organization (WHO),  and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) to support the transition from mercury-based measurement devices to digital and other alternatives.   From 2008-2014, HCWH and WHO collaborated in a global initiative aimed at demonstrating the feasibility of phasing out of mercury-based thermometers and sphygmomanometers in health care and their substitution with accurate, economically viable alternatives.  A component of the UNEP Mercury Products Partnership, the Mercury-Free Health Care Initiative achieved significant success in raising awareness among ministries of health, health systems and thousands of hospitals on every continent that it is possible to develop and implement policies and procedures to make the switch away from mercury.

On 16th August 2017, the Minamata Convention will become legally binding, obliging countries to no longer purchase mercury thermometers and blood pressure devices by 2020, and to seek to phase-down their use of dental amalgam.  An updated list of Parties to the Convention can be found at

May 25, 2017Global

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