Health Care

HCWH, China Health Ministry Research Center, UK Organization Sign Green Hospital Pact

On January 17, 2017, as Chinese new year is approaching, an "International Symposium on Developing Green Health Care System and Facilitating the Implementation of Healthy China Strategy" was held in Beijing, China by the China National Health Development Research Center (NHDRC), which showcased a multilateral and cross-sector dedication to green health care system development in China. Health leaders from China, the U.S, Korea and UK got together to share research and practical experience on green hospitals and health management. As a milestone of the three parties' cooperation, NHDRC, HCWH and SDU International have signed a Memorandum of Understanding for an International Collaboration to build a green health care system in China at the conference.

Since 2015, NHDRC has been conducting a project entitled “Strategic Research on the Construction and Development of Green Heath and Care System” in partnership with the British Embassy’s China Prosperity Fund, England’s Sustainable Development Unit for the health and care sector and HCWH. The project aims to establishing China’s green health care system framework and laying the groundwork for piloting and scaling up this approach. On the basis of previous cooperation, the three parties signed a long-term cooperation plan from 2016 to 2021, continuously promoting the development of China's green health care system through activities such as research, piloting and exchanging.

In addition to presentations from HCWH and SDU International, representatives of GGHH members, Kaiser Permanente (USA), Yonsei University Health System (South Korea) and Gundersen Health System (USA) were invited to present at the conference, sharing experience on integrating sustainability into hospital and health management. Leaders from China National Health and Family Planning Commission and local health departments have also introduced China’s policies and practices on green health care development. The conference not only brought together leaders in the field of health, but also invited leaders and experts from Department of Climate Change, National Development and Reform Commission and Ministry of Environmental Protection, to introduce international climate change negotiations and China's low-carbon development strategy, as well as China's environmental health problems and countermeasures.

Sonia Roschnik, Sustainable Development Unit of NHS England and Public Health, United Kingdom; Fu Wei, Director of NHDRC, China; and Josh Karliner, International Director of Program and Strategy, Health Care Without Harm signed a Memorandum of Understanding for an International Collaboration to build a green health care system in China at the conference. For more photos of the event, visit the image gallery.

Environment is a key health influencing factor and health sector will benefit from the collaboration and integration of its core function with sustainable environmental development. Health sector can contribute to this integration by reducing its environmental impacts and stimulating green transformation of its upstream industries. Building green and sustainable health care system will also bring important opportunities for China to cope with climate change, and contribute to the realization of a number of sustainable development goals.

"A green health care system should recognize the connection between human health and environment, and demonstrate that understanding through its governance, strategy and operations." said by Josh Karliner, International Director of Program and Strategy, Health Care Without Harm. FU Wei, Director of NHDRC said, "The development of health care system should be compatible with social environment and development goals. Green and sustainable health care system is an indispensable element for the construction of Healthy China".

The conference provided an opportunity for summarizing the previous efforts and achievements. It also marks the start of a new step for the partnership of NHDRC, HCWH and SDU International. The three parties have begun to develop the details of their strategic plan, and are expecting a robust implementation in the year of the rooster.

Visit the image gallery of the event

January 26, 2017Global

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Blog | Redefining Safer Chemical Procurement for Global Development

Blog post written by Susan Wilburn for United Nations Informal Interagency Task Team on Sustainable Procurement in the Health Sector (SPHS).

Posted on:

Hazardous Chemicals of Concern List

Photo credit: SPHS

In 2007, recognizing the global environmental realities of the 21st century, United Nations (UN) Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called on all UN organizations to become climate neutral by 2020. One opportunity for reducing the carbon footprint of the UN itself is through procurement. The United Nations purchases billions of dollars’ worth of products every year for global health projects. A problem occurs when products procured to promote health and development have unintended consequences that contribute to disease and environmental degradation.

To achieve this goal, the UN Sustainable Procurement initiative provides guidance and tools to support green procurement by UN agencies. However, these recommendations do not apply to health products and services. To address this gap, five UN agencies came together to create an Informal Interagency Task Team on Sustainable Procurement in the Health Sector (SPHS). The SPHS brings together UN agencies and global health funding institutions to evaluate criteria for procurement to reduce greenhouse gases, conserve resources, select less toxic products and publish tools and resources.

As a partner in this effort, Health Care Without Harm (HCWH), an organization whose mission is to transform health care worldwide so that it reduces its environmental footprint, becomes a community anchor for sustainability and a leader in the global movement for environmental health; is working together with UNDP, who holds the secretariat for SPHS, to develop guidance for green procurement of the health products purchased for global health programs. Supported by the UN Foundation in collaboration with the Skoll Foundation for Social Entrepreneurs, a critical component of this partnership is to conduct research identifying a list of hazardous chemicals to be avoided in health products procured by the UN for global and national programs. In partnership with UNDP, HCWH conducted a systematic evidence review to identify chemicals of high concern to be eliminated or substituted with less toxic chemicals.

UNDP and HCWH are working together to support UN procurement officers by developing criteria to reduce the environmental footprint of the products that they purchase. In addition to the joint HCWH/UNDP publication of the list of chemicals of high concern, guidance documents and training programs are in development for UN and national procurement officers as well as for hospitals who are active in HCWH’s network of Global Green and Healthy Hospitals to further their understanding of how to implement sustainable procurement of health products and services. The systematic evidence review used to evaluate harmful chemicals can also form the basis for the development of evidence-based norms and standards.

This guidance will assist Member States of the United Nations in fulfilling their obligations to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted in September 2015 by the UN General Assembly. Three of the 17 SDGs directly relate to the sustainable procurement project including: Good Health and Well-Being (Goal 3), Clean Water and Sanitation (Goal 6) and especially Responsible Consumption and Production (Goal 12) whose target 12.4 is: By 2020, achieve the environmentally sound management of chemicals and all wastes throughout their life cycle, in accordance with agreed international frameworks and significantly reduce their release to air, water and soil in order to minimize their adverse impacts on human health and the environment.

January 24, 2017Global

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Interview with Gary Cohen | Five Questions about Health Care Without Harm

[From Emerson Collective] MacArthur Fellow Gary Cohen explains how the healthcare sector contributes to public environmental health hazards and what hospitals are doing about it.

Twenty years ago, Gary Cohen began to take action against a glaring contradiction: healthcare, an industry made up of professionals who have taken the Hippocratic oath to do no harm, was one of the biggest contributors to environmental pollution impacting the public’s health. This year, Cohen is the recipient of a MacArthur “Genius Grant” for his efforts to transform global healthcare into a leading sector for environment-related health and sustainability. Recently, Healthcare Without Harm hosted an event at the global Conference of Parties (COP22) in Marrakech, Morocco, to discuss steps the healthcare industry can take to reduce its impact on climate change.

Emerson Collective’s Lucas Oliver Oswald spoke with Cohen about how Health Care Without Harm is addressing a range of issues, from toxin contamination, climate change and inefficient energy use, to unsustainable, unhealthy hospital food. (Continue reading)

November 30, 2016Global

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COP22 | Spotlight on Climate and Health as Officials Map out Implementation of Paris Agreement

Over the last two weeks Marrakech, Morocco played host to the 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP) on Climate Change. With the Paris Agreement coming into force just weeks before the event began, COP22 focused on bringing the world together to develop strategies and craft a blueprint for implementing the Agreement at national and global levels. 

While COP22 did not produce the headlines that Paris did, it is an integral part of a multi-year process to achieve the objectives of the Paris Agreement and marshal the forces of the global community to address climate change. As a representative from the World Meteorological Organization put it during the conference, “You can ignore climate change, but it won’t ignore you.” The message emanating from Marrakech is clear: the world must take real and immediate action now.

Amidst the negotiations and myriad events throughout COP22, the climate and health connection continued its rise into the mainstream as a key driver for action.  Seven events covering different aspects of the climate and health issue from air pollution, to migration, to solutions took place over the two weeks of the COP event.

The following are highlights from a few events showcasing how the health sector used COP22 as a platform to highlight climate and health issues and help build a community to address them.

  • On November 11th, the WHO, the French Ambassador for Climate Change, and the Minister Delegate in charge of Environment of Morocco organized hosted held Health Action Day. The event focused on showcasing the innovative programs already being implemented to address and mitigate the health impacts of climate change. Health Care Without Harm presented the 2020 Health Care Climate Challenge and our work to engage and unite the global health sector to develop low carbon health care and act as a leading voice to protect the health of the planet. (Read full article on the event)
  • On November 14, Health Care Without Harm and Global Green and Healthy Hospitals (GGHH) member, the Mohammed VI University Hospital hosted the Climate and Health Care Conference. The event brought together health sector leaders from around Morocco, Europe, and beyond to share strategies for the health sector to mitigate its own climate impacts, develop low carbon models of care, and use their voice, both individually and collectively, to advocate for policies to address climate change and public health. (Read full article on the event).
  • Monday the 14th also saw the launch of The Lancet Countdown: tracking progress on health and climate change at COP22. This new Lancet Commission project is an international, multidisciplinary research collaboration between academic institutions and practitioners across the world. The Lancet Countdown aims to track and report annually on the health impacts of climate hazards; health resilience and adaptation; health co-benefits of climate change mitigation; economics and finance; and political and broader engagement.
  • On Tuesday the 15th, the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Health of Morocco, in partnership with the World Health Organization and the UN Environment Programme, convened representatives from Ministries of Health and Environment from around the globe to sign a declaration on “Health Environment, and Climate Change.” This event and the declaration is an important step to both demonstrate the interest of nations around the world, from Botswana, to Canada, to the Philippines, Norway, and points in between in focusing on climate and health as well as the need for a global high-level alliance to drive these efforts.

Looming over the COP were the major political changes taking place in the US and the potential impacts they would have on the implementation of the goals set out in the Paris Agreement.  While those concerns are very real, the dramatic shifts and changes in both the climate of the planet and the climate of global politics, underscored in Marrakech the call by governments and civil society for the world to stand and work together.

Such collaboration is necessary to scale up programs and drive the transformative, high impact change needed to achieve global climate goals. The globe is on a timeline that not just calls for this collaboration but requires it.

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November 29, 2016Global

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COP 22 | Interview with Nick Thorp: Climate Change in the Health Care Setting

Radio Interview

During COP22 in Marrakech, Morocco, Radio Climat caught up with Nick Thorp, Global Green and Healthy Hospitals (GGHH) Community Manager.

During this interview, Nick  discusses the role of GGHH and its intent to mobilize health care to reduce its own carbon footprint, become more climate resilient, and exert leadership to help every society transition to a low carbon energy future.

Listen Now! (popup)

November 21, 2016Global

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Nepal | HCWH Participates in Regional Workshop on Health Care Waste Management

From November 21st to 24th, Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) will be participating in a Health Care Waste Management (HCWM) Workshop in Kathmandu, Nepal. Organized by the World Health Organization, South-East Asia Regional Office (WHO/SEARO), and aimed at the health program managers of the region's countries [1], the workshop will review the status of the progress on health care waste management in the region, share and learn from various country experiences, and make recommendations to improve management.

The event is a follow-up on a similar meeting organized in 2011 (click here for more information on HCWH’s participation).

Ruth Stringer, HCWH’s Science and Policy Coordinator for Global Projects, has been invited to participate as an international expert, and will present on Waste minimization and management: combining strategies to reduce the impact of pharmaceuticals on the environment.

Mahesh Nakarmi, Director of the Health Care Foundation of Nepal (HECAF), a strategic partner of HCWH will speak on HCWM in small health care facilities and Global Green and Healthy Hospitals (GGHH) member Dr Ming –Nan Lin, Vice superintendent, Dallin Tzu Chi Hospitals in Taiwan will provide a presentation: HCWM from Policy to Practice. The program features topics including innovations in recycling of health care waste, bio-digestion, injection safety, management of laboratory waste and the importance of waste management during disease outbreaks.

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As part of the event, there will be field visits to GGHH members, Paropakar Maternity & Women’s Hospital, Kathmandu Medical College and Government run Budhanilkantha Health Post.  HECAF are also organizing an exhibition of healthcare waste management technologies- from needle cutters to autoclaves- being used in Nepal.   The Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation DAAI Technology are bringing recycled clothes and other materials made from PET bottles to show the delegates.



[1] Countries who are part of the WHO SouthEast Asian Regional Office (SEARO) include: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea), India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor-Leste

November 18, 2016Global

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COP 22 | Acting for a Low Carbon Future – Conference on Climate and Health Care

Marrakech, Morroco – On November 14, Health Care Without Harm and Global Green and Healthy Hospitals (GGHH) member, the Mohammed VI University Hospital hosted the Climate and Health Care Conference in parallel to COP22 in Marrakech, Morocco. The event, the first of its kind to be held in the country, brought together health sector leaders from around Morocco, Europe, and beyond to share strategies for the health sector to mitigate its own climate impacts, develop low carbon models of care, and use their voice, both individually and collectively, to advocate for policies to address climate change and public health.

With the focus of COP22 on the actions necessary to achieve the goals set out in the Paris agreement, the conference focused on the role that the health sector can play in this global effort. From carbon mitigation strategies being implemented by CHU Niort (France), to approaches to reduce the carbon footprint of health care procurement from Region Skåne (Sweden) and the Sustainable Development Unit (UK), to regional climate resiliency planning measures undertaken by Assistance Publique – Hôpitaux de Paris (France), GGHH/2020 Challenge organizations were showcased throughout the day. Health Care Without Harm recognized their achievements and leadership on low carbon health care with 2016 Climate Champion Awards.

The event also provided a forum to feature the innovative work taking place around Morocco by individual hospitals as well as the Ministry of Health to ensure that low carbon development is a key focus for health care in the country. New facilities being built in the cities of Casablanca, Agadir, Tangiers, and Rabat have been designed to be highly energy efficient and with a minimal environmental footprint. Additionally, existing facilities are planning renovations to improve their operations and mitigate their climate impacts.

Mr. Rachid Wahabi from the Ministry of Health of Morocco called on all hospitals in Morocco to look for opportunities to provide high quality care while being environmentally and climate friendly and committed the Ministry to support them in this transition. The route to achieving this goal, he stated, is for the dissemination of experiences, best practices, and success among hospitals as was taking place at the conference.

These words and sentiments form the strategy for the health sector moving forward from COP22. There are and will continue to be incredible innovations and actions taking place around the globe to achieve low carbon health care. Sharing these experiences, collaborating with one another at national, regional, and international levels, and coming together as a powerful, united voice on climate change Is an obligation that the health sector must take on. As a collective, the global health sector can lead the way for the world to follow.

Article by Nick Thorp

To see the image gallery of the event, click here.

About GGHH

The Global Green and Healthy Hospitals community has 727 members in 40 countries on 6 continents who represent the interests of over 20,800 hospitals and health centers. Our members are using innovation, ingenuity, and investment to transform the health sector and foster a healthy future for people and the planet.

GGHH is a project of Health Care Without Harm

About the 2020 Health Care Climate Challenge

The 2020 Health Care Climate Challenge is a GGHH initiative to mobilize health care institutions around the globe to protect public health from climate change. The Challenge and pledge are based on three main pillars:

  1. Mitigation – Reducing health care’s own carbon footprint and/or fostering low carbon health care.
  2. Resilience – Preparing for the impacts of extreme weather and the shifting burden of disease.
  3. Leadership – Educating staff and the public while promoting policies to protect public health from climate change.

To learn how to endorse the pledge and participate in the Challenge, click here.

November 16, 2016Global

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COP22 | WHO Health Action Day: Champions for a Healthy Future

Nick Thorp presents during WHO side event

As world leaders convened at COP22 in Marrakech, Morocco to develop strategies and actions to implement and achieve the climate goals of the Paris Agreement, the World Health Organization hosted Health Action Day. A first of its kind event to be held inside the COP, the meeting showcased the actions and interventions being implemented by the health community at national, regional, and international levels to mitigate climate change, develop low carbon solutions, and protect the health of the planet.

From climate friendly cook stoves, to national climate health resiliency plans, to financing programs to scale up climate and health initiatives, speakers shared innovative work taking place in every corner of the globe to mitigate and prepare for the impacts of climate change on human health. The examples of successful and high impact projects are growing rapidly, and with that growth comes a need for their dissemination and scaling up. What works in one part of the world can and needs to be transferred and implemented in another. It is this sharing and diffusion of projects, technology, and strategies around the world that is necessary to have the kind of impacts needed to achieve the Paris Agreement.

Integrated throughout the presentations at the event were direct calls to the health sector for their leadership in advocating for immediate action to address climate change. Presenters shared examples of the influence that medical professionals can have: from preventing new coal-fired power plants from being built in Poland, to physician associations divestment from fossil fuels, to raising the health co-benefits of climate mitigation. This role is an integral one and one that Health Care Without Harm has been advocating for and building over the last 20 years, and most recently around climate issues with its program- the2020 Health Care Climate Challenge.

As the Minister Delegate in charge of Environment for Morocco, Ms. Hakima El Haite, state at the opening of the event, “The health community must answer the call of the Paris Agreement and be a champion in ensuring its implementation for the future health of the planet.” Health Care Without Harm has been and looks forward to continue to answer that call along with its partners and allies from around the globe to achieve the transformative change needed during this pivotal moment in time.

November 14, 2016Global

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