World Health Organization Recognizes Health Care Without Harm’s Role on Sustainability at the 71st World Health Assembly

  • Global

HCWH and WHO cosponsor side event on Chemicals Road Map

During the World Health Assembly (WHA) that took place from the 21-26 May 2018 in Geneva, Switzerland, the World Health Organization (WHO) recognized Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) as an important partner and expert on sustainability in the health sector.

At a technical briefing to WHA delegates on Climate, Health and the Environment, which included presentations by the Directors' General from WHO, UN Environment, and the World Meteorological Organization, the WHO highlighted HCWH’s role in providing practical examples of what the health care sector can do to lead by example in environmental sustainability and to shift to climate smart systems that would mitigate carbon emissions and while becoming increasingly resilient.

"WHO is key to connect our work on climate smart health care and comprehensive ten goal framework for the GGHH with Ministers of Health and national health systems." Susan Wilburn, HCWH’s International Sustainability Director.

According to WHO figures, an estimated 7 million people die prematurely every year from air pollution related diseases, including strokes, and heart disease, respiratory illness and cancer. In his final speech to this year's Assembly, Dr Tedros said that everywhere he went, he had the same message: health as a bridge to peace. "Health has the power to transform an individual's life, but it also has the power to transform families, communities and nations", he told delegates.

"WHO is key to connect our work on climate smart health care and comprehensive ten goal framework for the GGHH with Ministers of Health and national health systems.  This is an opportunity for the global health audience to learn about and gain access to the practical tools and resources for health systems to lead by example in demonstrating implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals," said Susan Wilburn, HCWH’s International Sustainability Director.

HCWH Cosponsors Side Event to the World Health Assembly

HCWH also cosponsored and participated in a side event between the World Health
Organization (WHO) Secretariat and civil society to discuss the implementation of the
WHO Chemicals road map by civil society and engagement in the beyond 2020 intersessional
process.

Representatives from HCWH Global, Latin America and Europe, participated both, in person and virtually in the side event. Susan Wilburn, HCWH’s International Sustainability Director and the civil society health sector representative for Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM), co-chaired and presented at the meeting.

Wilburn presented HCWH’s contributions and plans for implementation of the Roadmap through the publication of a Chemicals Guidance Document focusing on substituting mercury-containing medical devices for non-mercury, replacement of toxic disinfectants with those safer and more sustainable to workers’ health and the environment and the safe management of pharmaceutical waste.

HCWH will release the guidance document to members of its Global Green and Healthy Hospitals (GGHH) Network, which has over 1,000 members in 53 countries on 6 continents who represent the interests of over 32,100 hospitals and health centers.

Background

In May 2017, the 70th World Health Assembly approved the World Health Organization’s Road map to enhance health sector engagement in the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management towards the 2020 goal and beyond. The road map identifies concrete actions where the health sector has either a lead or important supporting role to play in the sound management of chemicals, recognizing the need for multi-sectoral cooperation. The road map is a key resource for identifying actions for collaboration with other sectors and stakeholders, and for advocating for action from decision-makers.

WHO has now also developed a workbook, which offers a structured way to work through the road map, choose priorities and plan activities. The use of the workbook could facilitate discussions within and among organizations about health sector priorities and potential activities to address these priorities. Sharing of priorities and planned actions could then lead to greater collaboration and coordination within the health sector as well as with other sectors.

In this context, WHO’s chemical safety program and the SAICM civil society health sector representative propose to jointly convene a meeting of civil society on the margins of the 71 st World Health Assembly.