Health Care

As the Paris Agreement Comes into Effect, Health Care Leaders Join to Turn Promise into Climate Action

With the Paris Agreement recently having entered into force, just in time before the start of COP22, Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) is mobilizing hospitals and health systems around the world to be leaders in implementing the Paris treaty by fostering green, low carbon, climate resilient health care. With this being the initial step, HCWH is also calling on health systems to be carbon neutral by 2050.

As COP22 kicks off in Marrakech, the health sector has an opportunity to turn promise into climate action. During the COP and beyond, HCWH will continue to call on the health sector worlwide to promote cimate smart healthcare hat protects local and global health from climate change.

The 2015 Paris Agreement recognized the need to protect the health of people and the planet by shifting the world economy towards greater sustainability and equity.  It provided a foundation—agreed upon by all the world’s governments—to address climate change.   It is a foundation that can, and needs to be built upon by all parties in coming years.

In the lead-up to COP21, 50 health care institutions from 16 countries, representing over 8,000 hospitals, adopted the 2020 Health Care Climate Challenge, committing to dramatically reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and exercise leadership in tackling climate change.  The 2020 Challenge is a program of HCWH’s Global Green and Healthy Hospitals (GGHH) network.

A year later, the 2020 Challenge has grown to include 130 health care institutions, representing more than 9,000 hospitals and health centers in 23 countries, pledging to reduce their carbon footprint, become climate resilient anchors in their communities, and pursue both political and economic solutions to foster climate smart, low carbon health care. These members have come together to demonstrate leadership and commit  to a combined  annual reductions of 12 million metric tons of CO2e by 2020.

On November 14th, some of these 2020 Challenge participants will be speak at the Climate and Health Care Conference, a one-day event co-organized by GGHH and 2020 Challenge Participant and GGHH member, the Mohammed VI University Hospital of Marrakech. This conference will bring together health sector representatives and experts from around the world to discuss the integral role of health care in the global fight against climate change. The event will also feature a rich series of panels, with speakers from a diversity of regions sharing their in-depth experiences of how they foster low carbon health care through renewable energy, purchasing, economics, and policy.

Health care has a moral obligation to provide climate leadership, and COP22 is an opportunity for the sector to turn leadership into action and further promote health and healing at home and in the world. There cannot be healthy people and healthy communities without a healthy planet. We must do our part to mitigate our own climate impacts, become more climate resilient, and lead by example.

Lead by Example, Make your Climate Commitment Official!

Today, just as the governments of the world did, make you commitment to take action on climate change official. Join the 2020 Health Care Climate Challenge!


November 11, 2016Global

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Leveraging Health Care for a More Sustainable World

Given its mission and influence, health care can lead society to a low carbon, toxic free, sustainable future

In a blog post posted on the Sustainable Procurement in the Health Sector (SPHS) website, Gary Cohen - HCWH's President and Founder - presents the role of the health sector worldwide to help lead the way towards a low carbon, toxic-free future.

According to Cohen, "Health care can be a leading force for sustainability and environmental health around the world, both by reducing its own carbon footprint and by leveraging its economic clout to bend the arc of the world economy toward more environmentally sound practices. And given the size of the healthcare sector, which represents 10% of the global economy, that impact could be significant."

"We are pleased to be collaborating with UNDP on a project supported by the United Nations and the Skoll Foundation to develop sustainable procurement criteria for the UN’s purchase of more than $5 billion in healthcare products annually. By setting and validating these criteria, the UN, through its Sustainable Procurement in the Health Sector (SPHS) initiative, can not only develop green criteria for its own procurement, but can establish a framework that can potentially be adopted by ministries of health and health systems the world over."

November 2, 2016Global

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South Africa | GGHH Side Event at World Hospital Congress

Source: groundWork

Durban, South Africa | Health care institutions from around the globe gathered on Sunday (October 30) at the Durban International Convention Center (ICC) for the start of the 40th World Health Congress, under the International Hospital Federation (IHF).

The importance of environmentally healthy health care will intersect with this year’s congress theme “Addressing the Challenge of Patient-Centred Care and Safety” at a side event hosted by Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) in partnership with its South African partner, groundWork.

On October 31, the side event "Global Green and Healthy Health Systems" brought together hospital leaders from Africa that have voluntarily joined Global Green and Healthy Hospitals as well as other leading international health care experts to share approaches to low-carbon, sustainable health care ideas and systems.

Luqman Yesufu, Coordinator of the GGHH Network in Africa and Environmental Health Campaigner at groundWork: "HCWH and its GGHH Network responds to climate change as a major health care challenge by identifying and supporting health sector members around the globe in the replication of models that foster low carbon, sustainable health care solutions. These solutions aim to be financially viable and increasingly resilient to extreme weather events, while enhancing health care delivery and the quality of care to patients."

October 31, 2016Global

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New GGHH Hippocrates Data Center Goes Live!

Global Green and Healthy Hospitals (GGHH) is proud to announce the launch of Hippocrates Data Center, the first international platform of its kind designed for the health sector to measure actions towards reducing its environmental footprint.

A new, cutting edge tool, Hippocrates puts the power of data management, goal benchmarking, and progress reporting in the hands of each member. GGHH members will now be able to track, store, and visualize the data and progress of their sustainability programs and initiatives…all on a secure web-based platform housed on GGHH Connect.


For more information, visit 

Join our upcoming webinar to learn all about Hippocrates

Save the date! This free, one-hour webinar will provide an overview of Hippocrates, its many features and our data forms on Waste, Energy and climate!

  • Session 1 | November 10 at 7 am Pacific Standard Time/12 pm Buenos Aires/4 pm Central European Time. Click here to register
  • Session 2 | November 11 at 7 am Central European Time/ 7 am South Africa Standard Time/11.45 am Nepal Time/1 pm Philippine Time and China Time. Click here to register

For world clock time converter, please check

October 27, 2016Global

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Health Care Without Harm Supports World Medical Association’s Call for Divestment

During its annual assembly in Taiwan, the World Medical Association (WMA) called on health organizations to divest from fossil fuel based companies and to invest in companies that uphold environmental principles consistent with United Nations policy. Health Care Without Harm supports the WMA's call for divest and similarly urges health care organizations around the world to move towards clean energy solutions.

Given the energy intensive nature of its operations, health care has a moral responsibility to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels. By investing in clean energy, greening the supply chain, and empowering employees, the health sector can reduce the health impacts of climate change, save money on energy costs, and help accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy.

Similarly, divesting from fossil fuels is central to health care’s mission and sends a powerful message from the health sector. "Health professionals divested from tobacco companies because it was in opposition to our healing mission, and now we need to divest from fossil fuels because they threaten the health of billions of people," said Gary Cohen, president and founder of Health Care Without Harm. "We need to kick our addiction to fossil fuels in order to safeguard global health."

"The vulnerable among us, including children, older adults, people with heart or lung disease, and people living in poverty, are most at risk from [climate change]. Yet they are the people least able to adapt to the new conditions," said Dr. Dong Chun Shin, South Korean Medical Association Representative and Chair of the WMA Finance and Planning Committee. "We know that fossil fuel air pollution reduces quality of life for millions of people worldwide, causing a substantial burden of disease, economic loss, and costs to health care systems."

During its meeting, the WMA adopted a policy statement encouraging all 112 of its national medical association members to educate others on both the dangers of climate change and the health benefits of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

October 24, 2016Global

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HCWH Participates in 2016 Infection Control Africa Network Congress

Ruth Stringer, HCWH Global Science and Policy Coordinator and Susan Wilburn, Sustainability Director, GGHH, participated in the 6th International Infection Control Africa Network (ICAN) Congress in Johannesburg, South Africa. During September 25th and 26th, Ruth Stringer presented the options for African health care systems to improve Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) and spoke about the marriage of waste management and IPC for patient and worker safety.

“Some technologies and materials used in infection control can harm the environment, which in turn can harm our health. Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest per capita rate of environmentally related deaths. To prevent inadvertent harm, we are presenting information about how African healthcare systems can access infection control tools to reduce disease without having an impact on the environment”, explains Ruth Stringer.

The event featured international experts discussing global matters such as antimicrobial resistance and stewardship, Ebola, and water borne diseases. This allows countries that are in the process of establishing national IPC programs the opportunity to share their experiences with colleagues across the continent. The conference also addressed IPC education, mother and child infections, disinfection and sterilization (a major concern in Africa), environmental cleaning, MERSCoV, tuberculosis and IPC. Drawing on the Ebola experience, the role of the community in containing outbreaks was discussed.

With over 290 members in 24 countries, ICAN has grown to become the voice of Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) in Africa. It promotes and facilitates the establishment of infection control programs, achievement and maintenance of infection reduction, including health care associate infections, and promotes antimicrobial stewardship activities through education, and by working with infection prevention structures in Africa and other international health related associations.

ICAN is the largest infection control organization in Africa and has gone from strength to strength in education, training and extensive networking across Africa.

October 18, 2016Global

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Asia | HCWH Urges Governments to Invest in Low Carbon, Climate-Resilient Health Care

Manila, Philippines — As health and environment leaders meet this week in Manila for the World Health Organization’s Asia Pacific Regional Forum on Environment and Health (4th Regional Forum), Health Care Without Harm Asia urges governments of Southeast and East Asian countries to protect public health from climate change and to invest in building low-carbon and climate-resilient health facilities.

Health Care Should be Prepared for Climate Change

Many countries in the region, including the Philippines, are some of the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. The British medical journal The Lancet has referred to climate change as the "biggest global health threat of the 21st century," from extreme weather events, changes in patterns of diseases, increase in vector-borne diseases, and water and food insecurity affecting people’s health and well-being.

"Considering the climate change’s major impacts on people’s health, health care needs to help lead the efforts to address this, one of the greatest problems of our time.   Our hospitals need to be the last buildings standing in an extreme weather event; our health systems must adapt to the shifting burden of disease; and we must reduce our own carbon footprint, which is quite large in some countries," explained HCWH International Director of Program and Strategy, Josh Karliner, who will be presenting on green, low-carbon, climate-resilient health care during the pre-forum (...).

Pushing for low-carbon health care

"Hospitals and health systems that consume loads of energy can save money and reduce their footprint by implementing low carbon health care development strategies," added Karliner.   "A low carbon health care approach is also ideal for many developing countries because renewables such as solar and wind can help power health facilities where otherwise there is no reliable energy source." 

October 5, 2016Global

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WHO Releases Country Estimates on Air Pollution Exposure and Health Impact

Source: World Health Organization

A new World Health Organization (WHO) air quality model confirms that 92% of the world’s population lives in places where air quality levels exceed WHO limits. Information is presented via interactive maps, highlighting areas within countries that exceed WHO limits.

“The new WHO model shows countries where the air pollution danger spots are, and provides a baseline for monitoring progress in combatting it,” says Dr Flavia Bustreo, Assistant Director General at WHO. It also represents the most detailed outdoor (or ambient) air pollution-related health data, by country, ever reported by WHO. The model is based on data derived from satel­lite measurements, air transport models and ground station monitors for more than 3000 loca­tions, both rural and urban. It was developed by WHO in collaboration with the University of Bath, United Kingdom.

For more information on the global assessment of exposure and burden of disease, interactive map, FAQs and press release, please click here.

September 30, 2016Global

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Registration Now Open! Conference on Climate and Health Care

COP22, November 14, 2016

Marrakech, Morocco


morocco-page-imageAs world leaders convene in Marrakech to map out strategies to achieve the climate goals agreed upon in Paris, Health Care Without Harm and The Mohammed VI University Hospital of Marrakech are pleased to host the Climate and Health Care Conference – COP22.

This one-day conference brings together health sector representatives and experts from around the world to discuss the integral role of health care in this global effort. Speakers, including representatives from the government, private, and public sector of host country, Morocco, will present strategies and success stories on how health care can mitigate its climate impacts, develop low carbon models of care, and prepare to stand resilient in the face of a changing climate.


  • To register, click here. Space is limited.
  • Confirmation of registration will be provided following submission of the registration form.
September 21, 2016Global

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Knowledge Exchange Between China and US to Foster Environmentally Sustainable Health Care

Identifying opportunities to address climate change and improve health

San Francisco – In a people-to-people exchange, a delegation from the Chinese health sector will meet this week with Health Care Without Harm and several major U.S. health systems to identify strategies to address climate change and foster green, environmentally sustainable, climate-resilient health care in both countries.

Hosted by Health Care Without Harm, the meeting will include the members of Chinese delegation headed by Mr. Yang Hongwei, Deputy Director General of the China National Health Development Research Center, and several members of the U.S. Health Care Climate Council, including Dignity Health, Gundersen Health System, Kaiser Permanente, Partners Healthcare, and Virginia Mason. The visit is supported in part by the U.S. State Department’s People to People Exchange program.

In addition to meeting with the health systems, the Chinese delegation will tour Bay Area hospitals to learn how US health care systems are implementing sustainability strategies while working for better health outcomes.

“This marks the beginning of a collaboration between health sectors in our two countries to make health care greener and more environmentally friendly, while protecting public health from climate change,” said Josh Karliner, International Director of Program and Strategy for Health Care Without Harm. “The fact that the Presidents of both countries have prioritized addressing climate change creates space for the health sectors in China and the United States to step up together to address one of the greatest health challenges of our time.”

Leading scientists and public health experts recognize that climate change will impact the health of billions of people around the world. Whether it’s heat related deaths, respiratory diseases, the spread of malaria, Zika virus and Dengue fever, water-borne diseases, or the prospect of millions more refugees, climate change has transformed from an environmental problem in the distant future to an immediate global health threat affecting everyone.

Historically, the United States has been the top emitter and leads the world in per capita emissions of greenhouse gasses. It is the second largest emitter of greenhouse gases today. U.S. health care is responsible for nearly 10% of current emissions – or 655 million metric tons – the equivalent of the entire United Kingdom’s contribution to climate change. China also faces similar problems.

Representing close to 6% of China’s and 18% of the United States’ economy, the health care sector can play a leading role in moving both societies in a transition to a more sustainable, environmentally friendly future.

“In China we have launched several research projects to identify a route map to greener health care buildings, operations and service delivery in our national system,” said Mr. Yang Hongwei, Deputy Director General of the National Health Development Research Center. “We are pleased to visit San Francisco, share our experiences, and learn from health systems here. We look forward to more cooperation in the future.”

In addition to identifying opportunities for health systems in both countries to move toward greener health development, meeting participants will explore organizing a follow-on meeting in Beijing on green health care, as well as a health care component to the 2017 U.S. - China Climate Leaders Summit in Boston as a way to continue to advance the collaboration.


About Health Care Without Harm

With offices in Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the United States, Health Care Without Harm seeks to transform the health sector worldwide, without compromising patient safety or care, so that it becomes ecologically sustainable and a leading advocate for environmental health and justice.

Established by Health Care Without Harm, the Health Care Climate Council is a leadership network of U.S. hospitals committed to strengthening the health sector’s response to climate change.

Visit for more information.

About the China National Health Development Research Center

The China National Health Development Research Center is a national research institution, established in 1991 under the leadership of National Health and Family Planning Commission of China. It works as a national think-tank providing technical consultancy to health policy-makers. To further strengthen health policy research and better accommodate the needs of health development and reform. After decades of development, the National Health Development Research Center has become an institution of scale with over 100 researchers and research fellows.

Health Care Without Harm has been working with the National Health Development Research Center since late 2015. Since that time the National Health Development Research Center has joined Health Care Without Harm’s Global Green and Healthy Hospitals Network

September 16, 2016Global

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