HCWH Launches Global Environmental Health Agenda for Hospitals

Buenos Aires — Health Care Without Harm today launched a new initiative designed to foster greater ecological sustainability and environmental health in the health care sector around the world.

The Global Green and Healthy Hospitals Agenda is a framework for hospitals and health systems to reduce their ecological footprint and play a leading role in addressing major environmental health challenges--such as chemical contamination, medical waste and climate change-- in the hospital setting and the broader community.

“The health sector makes up about ten percent of world GDP and in many countries has both huge economic clout and a major environmental impact that can undermine human health,” said Josh Karliner, International Coordinator for Health Care Without Harm and one of the authors of the report. “Yet hospitals and health systems everywhere are leveraging their economic positions and moral standing to promote sustainability, greater health equity and environmental health. This Agenda creates a framework to bring those diverse efforts together and take them to a new level. “

Launched at the First Latin American Conference of Hospitals for Environmental Health, the Global Green and Healthy Hospitals Agenda has ten interconnected goals. “Each goal contains a series of Action Items that hospitals and health systems can implement,” said Veronica Odriozola, HCWH Latin America Coordinator. “They add up to a comprehensive framework that hospitals and health systems around the world can work with, be they small or large, rich or poor, public or private.”

The Agenda will form the foundation of a Global Green and Healthy Hospitals Network, which HCWH will formally launch in early 2012. A number of hospitals from countries as diverse as Argentina, Nepal and India have already joined as founding members.

The Sustainability Unit of England’s National Health Service, which works with more than 200 hospitals in the UK, and which is one of the world’s leading voices for an environmentally sound health sector, has also joined as a Founding Member of the Network. Another 300 hospitals in the United States are members of the Healthier Hospitals Initiative, a US specific effort that is closely related to the new global network.

“We expect that over time thousands of hospitals from dozens of countries will join this Network, ” said Odriozola. “We look forward to working with them and supporting them as they strive to protect and promote public environmental health.”

The Agenda, as well as tools and resources to support hospitals as they implement its goals are available on a new website, www.greenhospitals.net. Over time, hospitals will be able to measure their progress and share experiences with one another on this website.