Building a climate change response for health care in Africa

Over 100 representatives of hospitals, health care systems, and government agencies convened on November 7 and 8 in Durban, South Africa, for the first GGHH & SHiPP Africa Conference.


Hosted by groundWork and Health Care Without Harm, the conference brought together members of the Global Green and Healthy Hospitals (GGHH) network, health care leaders, and experts from across the continent to discuss, innovate, and collaborate on strategies to foster climate-smart and sustainable health care practices.

The conference showcased innovative solutions and effective practices implemented in African health care institutions and organizations working on projects related to green building design, renewable energy, and sustainable procurement.

Several low-tech, low-cost and easily to adopt practices were presented during the meeting. “We heard of great results obtained from actions such as empowering cleaners to turn off lights, and savings of 78% of water from turning off the tap in the middle of handwashing, to high-tech solutions with renewable energy and heat pumps to capture and reuse water from autoclaves,” says Susan Wilburn, HCWH’s International Sustainability Director and who leads the organization’s work in the Sustainable Health in Procurement Project (SHiPP).


Lusanda Majola, member of groundWork, and Susan Wilburn

 Lusanda Majola, from groundWork, and Susan Wilburn 


Collaborative network

The GGHH global Network has 1,256 members in 61 countries that represent the interests of over 36,000 hospitals and health centres. In Africa, the network has grown steadily to 95 members, representing over 1,700 hospitals and health centres in the continent.

“GroundWork, in collaboration with HCWH and its GGHH network, responds to climate change as a major health care challenge by identifying and supporting health sector members around the continent in the replication of models that foster low carbon, sustainable healthcare solutions,” says Luqman Yesufu, Coordinator of the GGHH Network in Africa, and Environmental Health Campaigner at groundWork.


During the conference, 24 awards were granted to hospitals involved in the Green Health Challenges: Climate and Health, Energy and Health Care Waste Management. 

 “These solutions aim at enhancing health care delivery and the quality of care to patients and at the same time be financially viable and increasingly resilient to extreme weather events,” Yesufu adds.

For Nick Thorp, Network Director of GGHH, the conference was a great opportunity to learn from another, build relationships, and develop collaborations to support the collective movement in Africa towards sustainable health care.

“It was fantastic to see members from around the region come together at the first GGHH Africa conference. It was a great moment to celebrate the growth of our network, the accomplishments of members” and their dedication to protect and improve public and environmental health,” he highlights.