Health Care

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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India | Sofia Ashraf Challenges Unilever CEO Paul Polman in Brand New Video


Rapper/performer Sofia Ashraf is BACK with another video for the #UnileverPollutes campaign. Last year, Unilever’s mercury mess made international news with Sofia’s parody music video ‘Kodaikanal won’t. 591 ex-workers were compensated by Unilever as a result of the mounting public pressure after the video went viral.

Now, the people of Kodaikanal are demanding a world-class clean up of the mercury left behind by HUL’s thermometer factory. You can watch the video at this link.


“Unilever has been putting out misleading statements for years, and this video is our response,” says Divya Narayanan, campaigner at “In order for the government officials to make the best decisions for Kodaikanal, they need have accurate information, so I hope the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board and the Ministry of Environment pay close attention. The goal of this video is to correct the public record and expose Unilever’s double standards.

“We also challenge Mr. Polman to respond to this video, but this time we want him to put science above commerce. Just like the UK, where Unilever is headquartered, India and Kodaikanal deserves safe standards NOT double standards.”

In the video, Sofia challenges some of Unilever’s biggest misleading statements. Right from the fact that 1.3 tonnes of mercury waste have been dumped in the Pambar Shola reserve forest. Not only that but some mercury-laden scrap glass from Unilever’s factory was sold to toy-makers who made marbles that children play with.

The video also highlights how Unilever’s currently proposed cleanup standard would leave behind 20 milligrams of mercury in every kilogram of soil AFTER the cleanup is complete. This standard is TWENTY times weaker than what would be allowed in the United Kingdom, where Unilever is headquartered.

This video has been released as part of the second phase of the campaign. Last week, asked people from India and around the world to send emails to India’s new environment minister Anil Dave urging him to ensure that Kodaikanal gets the world-class clean-up it deserves. As of now, more than 13,900 emails have been sent to Minister Dave and his secretaries. The action page can be found here.

About is a campaigning organisation committed to building grassroots citizen power across India in effective and innovative ways. helps people take action collectively on issues that interest or affect them, and create change that would not be possible if they acted alone. also collaborates with civil society to engage citizens to hold corporate, cultural and government leaders accountable in real time at key decision moments through various digital communication platforms. Read more about’s victories and press hits.

For more information, please contact:

Divya Narayanan

Mobile: +91 9884 521 072

Email: [email protected]

September 15, 2016Global

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On HCWH’s 20th Anniversary, New Film Showcases Health Care’s Mission to Protect People and the Planet

As part of our 20th anniversary celebration, Health Care Without Harm is excited to release Do No Harm, a short film telling the inspiring story of this global movement.

Once upon a time, a small group of doctors, nurses, and health care leaders realized that, in violation of the Hippocratic Oath to “first, do no harm”, some hospital practices were harming patients and the planet. This small effort grew into a global movement advocating for change on the critical environmental health issues of our time. As we live and work within the reality of climate change in the 21st century, our voice is growing even louder.

Experience a beautiful short film about health care’s journey to embrace a broader mission that protects the health of patients and the environment.

In the film, Aparna Bole, a pediatrician and health care leader, shares the journey of how this small group of caregivers sparked a new way of thinking about health care’s role in protecting the health of patients and the environment. Created by award-winning documentary filmmaker Nicole Newnham and supported by the Sundance Institute, Do No Harm is about everyone involved in our collective work.

We encourage you to share this film with your colleagues and your community. Use it in your upcoming Grand Rounds and presentations. Post it on your website. Play it for your patients. Pass it along to your family and friends. Share your story, our story.

In our fight against climate change, health care stands at a turning point in history and we can move to a tipping point. It's within our power and our mission.


September 7, 2016Global

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20 Years In, We’re Just Getting Started

Celebrating Health Care Without Harm’s 20th anniversary, Gary Cohen reflects on the last two decades in the environmental health movement and offers an opportunity for health care to redefine its role in the 21st century.

When we started Health Care Without Harm, we hardly knew anyone who worked in the health care sector. We were mostly outsiders, community activists who had been working for decades in the environmental movement. But we knew we needed powerful allies to transform this emerging science linking the environment to our health into action that would protect our children, our families, our communities. We needed health care.

Back then, new science revealed that low-dose exposures of toxic chemicals in the first thousand days of a child’s life could create a host of health problems later in life, including cancer, learning disabilities, infertility, and other chronic diseases. At the same time, we began to learn that pregnant women and unborn children were being exposed to these same toxic chemicals. We were outraged by this chemical trespass into our bodies. And so in September of 1996, a small group of individuals met at Commonweal in Bolinas, California, giving birth to Health Care Without Harm.

Our first campaign focused on medical waste incineration. In 1994, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency identified medical waste incineration the leading source of dioxin pollution in the United States. Although health care is the one sector of the economy with healing as its mission, its fingerprints were all over the scene of this contamination. We believed that doctors, nurses, and others throughout health care would recognize this contradiction and work hard to put a stop to it.

Read the Full Story on Medium 

Gary Cohen has been a pioneer in the environmental health movement for thirty years. He is president and co-founder of Health Care Without Harm and Practice Greenhealth and he was instrumental in bringing together the NGOs and hospital systems that formed the Healthier Hospitals Initiative. The White House presented him with the Champion of Change Award for Climate Change and Public Health and the Huffington Post named him a Game Changer in Healthy Living.



September 6, 2016Global

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Declaration from the Strength from Disaster Conference

In April this year, exactly one year on from the devastating Gorkha earthquake, a conference was held to discuss the lessons learned from the disaster and how the health care sector can become more resilient in the face of natural and manmade disasters.

The conference was organized by Health Care Without Harm, Health Care Foundation Nepal, Tzu Chi Foundation, Nepal's Ministry of Health, Association of Private Health Institutions, the Association of Non-Government Hospitals, and the World Health Organization. It brought together over one hundred and sixty participants, representing the Nepali and foreign health care sectors, and the international healthcare, environmental and disaster response communities.

Delegates concluded that environmentally friendly technologies have the potential to assist health care facilities to stay operational during crises, as well as reducing the amount of dangerous pollution they emit. Up to twenty three percent of deaths globally are linked to environmental factors, including air and water pollution.

The delegates’ conclusions have now been drawn together into a declaration that calls for environmental performance to be considered as an indicator or benchmark in the design of health care systems and emergency planning for risk reduction.

In Kathmandu, after the earthquake, hospitals operating sustainable health care waste management systems continued to treat waste with minimal disruption, with one major trauma center treating over twice the normal amount of waste. Segregating, autoclaving and recycling saves resources, eliminates the carcinogenic dioxin emissions from incinerators, and minimises carbon footprint.

Sourcing food locally and reducing meat consumption also reduces greenhouse gas emissions and promotes health. As well as reducing pollution, renewable energy and independent water systems reduce the dependence of health care facilities on infrastructure which can be disrupted during emergencies.

Mahesh Nakarmi, Director of Health Care Foundation Nepal, and one of the conference organizers, said “Nepal is recovering from this disaster but we need to build back better to protect against future threats, including earthquakes and climate change. Improving the environmental performance of the health care sector is an important part of this strategy and this Declaration helps show the way it can be done.”

To read the declaration, click here.


September 1, 2016Global

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Image Gallery | Green Hospitals Asia Regional Conference

Hospitals, health systems, and health organizations from all over Asia came together during the 2016 Green Hospitals Asia Regional Conference in Yogyakarta, Indonesia to tackle how the health sector can work together and mitigate climate change.

Held together with the Indonesian Health Promoting Hospitals Network, the 3rd Global Green and Healthy Hospitals Asia Regional Conference, gathered hundreds of representatives from hospitals, health systems, and health organizations in Indonesia, as well as China, India, Nepal, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan.

August 18, 2016Global

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