Africa | News Archive

Africa Bucking the Trend

Posted in: September 2017. Written by Rico Euripidou, Environmental Health Campaign Manager

A great heading for a positive story. We’re tired of negative stories but we need to be aware of not recognising or dealing with our past. So we stand in the positive glow of a victory but, as groundWork is always aware, there is always some bitterness with environmental justice victories.

Wednesday the 16th of August 2017 marked the coming into force of the Minamata Convention on Mercury. Twenty-one African countries (of seventyfour ratifications globally) had already ratified the Convention, making Africa the leading region in this respect.

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Unintended POPs

Posted in: September 2017. Written by Luqman Yesufu, Global Green and Healthy Hospital (GGHH) Network Campaign Manager

Where are we going? This was my thought as I sat comfortably at the back of a United Nations car that had come to pick me up from the airport in Lusaka, Zambia. I was wondering why we had to travel almost three hours on a really busy and dusty road to Kabwe, where we would be having our United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) workshop. It later dawned on me that the town – Kabwe – is the world’s most toxic town according to pollution experts, where massive lead poisoning has damaged children’s organs, including their brains. I then understood that there was no better place to have this workshop. Kabwe would serve as a good environmental health reference to the health professionals we were about to train.

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South Africa | 2017 GGHH Member's Meeting

On the 4th and 5th of September 2017, GGHH members in South Africa gathered in Johannesburg to collectively review their progress in reaching their respective sustainability goals and develop three year implementation strategies for their respective their health institution. These hospitals play an integral role to inspire other institutions in South Africa to focus on sustainability and prepare to stand resilient in the fact of a changing climate. During the meeting, which was organized by groundWork, HCWH’s strategic partner in South Africa, each GGHH member presented a poster to showcase their achievements and the challenges they faced along the way. The various presentations inspired everyone, as members were keen to learn about the successes and challenges of each member institution. Read more and visit the image gallery.

South Africa | Workshop on Sustainable Health Care Solutions

The workshop “Sustainable Health Care Solutions: An Environmental Health Model for Governance, Advocacy, Capacity and Information“ took place on 4 September 2017, as a part of the 13th Public Health Association of South Africa (PHASA) Conference (4-7 September, in Johannesburg, South Africa). Read more

South Africa | GGHH Launch at Bertha Gxowa Hospital

Posted on: 30 August 2017

The latest South African member to join GGHH, Bertha Gxowa Hospital, announced their membership on 16th August with the launch of a new recycling campaign that aims to accomplish zero waste at the hospital.

Bertha Gxowa Hospital has decided to adopt the waste and pharmaceutical goals. Under the pharmaceutical goal, they encourage patients to return unused or expired medicines instead of disposing them incorrectly, which can lead to toxic drugs in the water supply, soil and food chains. This has helped changed people’s perceptions around disposing of their medicine in the sewer and bins. Read more and visit the image gallery.

Madagascar | Workshop for GGHH Members

On 23-24 August 2017, GGHH members in Madagascar participating in the Global Environment Facility funded “Reducing UPOPs and Mercury Releases from the Health Sector in Africa” project attended a GGHH workshop organized by groundWork, HCWH’s partner in South Africa, and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Madagascar.

The event was also attended by government officials from the Ministry of Health in Madagascar and provided an opportunity for the 6 members to learn more about their commitment to sustainable healthcare and tools and resources available to them. Furthermore, the workshop provided them with a platform to learn from each other and, strengthen their relationships with one another. Read more and visit the image gallery.

South Africa | GGHH Training in Gauteng Province

On 17 August 2017, 32 participants from GGHH member institutions in the Gauteng province, South Africa, participated in a regional workshop and training on sustainable health care. Form more information, click here. Visit the image gallergy


South Africa  | GGHH Training in KwaZulu-Natal Province

On 10 August 2017, GGHH members from the KwaZulu-Natal province, in South Africa, held their first regional forum. There were 18 participants from 10 GGHH members at the meeting. The event started with Luqman Yesufu, GGHH Campaigner in Africa, providing a brief overview of GGHH. Participants were impressed by the size and geographic reach of the network and found the case studies library to be a great resource. During the event, Luqman also hosted a session on “How to write a GGHH case study.” Many participants realized they were already sitting on two to four case studies without knowing it. They all decided to document their achievements in the near future with a case study. Read more and visit the image gallery.

Minamata Enters into Force

By: Rico Euripidou, Environmental Health Campaign Manager

Posted: June 2017

"groundWork has over the past fifteen years worked on various projects to eliminate the use of mercury in society. Mercury is essentially a harmful chemical that has known negative impacts on health and the environment. In South Africa, we have the sad legacy of imported toxic mercury waste leading to the death and injury of workers in the late 1980s and 90s".Like other heavy metals, mercury persists in the environment forever. It can be transported over distances far removed from its original emission source, contaminating the food we eat, the water we drink and the air that we breathe. Mercury is thus a global pollutant and its most toxic form – methylmercury – accumulates in large predatory fish and is taken up in our bodies through eating fish, with the worst impacts being on babies in utero and small children. Read more

A Sustainable Energy Webinar

By: Luqman Yesufu, GGHH Campaing Manager, groundWork, South Africa

Posted: June 2017

"If we were to ask any health professionals – particularly the ones who are charged with the responsibility to do no harm and save lives – will you be willing to work in a hospital with intermittent energy supply or none at all? I am sure that the answer you would get is “No”, as energy or electricity not only plays a key role in delivery of health service, but facilities that have access to electricity may be better positioned to attract and retain skilled health workers, especially in rural areas. Energy also enables mobile and telemedicine applications, and facilitates public environmental health education and information. Modern energy provision is therefore a critical enabler of universal access to health care and universal health coverage". Read more

Webinar | Demonstrating Best Practices in Africa for Reducing Healthcare Waste and Releases of Dioxins and Mercury

Posted: 21 July 2017

Hospitals from Madagascar and Tanzania presented their work as part of their participation in the Reducing Unattended Persistent Organic Pollutants (UPoPs) and Mercury Releases from the Health Sector in Africa Project. Speakers will present case studies delineating their strategies to limit the amount of healthcare waste they generate and burn, and how they are reducing the quantity of broken mercury-containing devices that are improperly handled, discarded or burned. Access the recording and the presentation

Webinar | Sustainable Energy Efficiency Practices in South African Hospitals

Posted: 30 May 2017

Greater energy efficiency and transitioning to clean energy sources can both significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect public health from the impacts of climate change. Health care facilities consume a big amount of fossil fuel energy, but can significantly cut their emissions and energy costs over time by using alternative forms of renewable energy, and biofuels that do not undermine public health. This webinar was about the sustainable energy efficiency practices being taken by GGHH members in South Africa. Access the recording and the presentations.

South Africa | Do Hospitals Do More Harm than Good?

Posted on: 10 April 2017

By Luqman Yesufu, GGHH Coordinator in South Africa, groundWork

The members of the Global Green and Healthy Hospital network aim to ensure that they do no harm while providing health services. The prevention of illness, injury and disease is an essential part of healthcare. We engage in healthy life style habits such as exercising and not smoking to prevent obesity and lung cancer. We vaccinate our children regularly to stimulate immunity and thus protect them from disease. We educate young boys and girls in order to promote safe sex and thus prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections. On the basis of this, there is remarkable evidence to show that prevention works better than treating a disease. If this is the case, the health care sector must lead by example by engaging in more sustainable practices that are aimed at preventing disease and promoting good health without compromising patient care and safety. Read more

Webinar | Sustainable Solutions to Health Care Waste Management: African Perspective

Posted on: 10 March 2017

GGHH members in South Africa will be hosting a series of webinars to showcase their work. Join the first of these webinars to learn how members are implementing environmentally sound waste management practices. Participants will also discuss how hospitals can protect public health by reducing the volume and toxicity of waste produced, while implementing the most environmentally sound waste management and disposal options. Read more

South Africa | GGHH Members Host the Community Planning Meeting

Posted on: 28 March 2017

GGHH members from South Africa met on February 21st and 22nd in Pietermaritzburg to discuss achievements in their work towards GGHH Goals on energy, waste, water and pharmaceuticals. They also reviewed key highlights and challenges in 2016 and plans for joint work for 2017. The meeting was organized by groundWork, Health Care Without Harm’s strategic partner in South Africa. Read more.

South Africa | Global Green and Healthy Hospitals' Members Exchange

Posted on: 6 December 2016

By Luqman Yesufu, GGHH Coordinator in South Africa, groundWork

Recruiting health institutions in Africa into the Global Green and Healthy Hospital (GGHH) network is one thing, but actually organizing a regional event for the GGHH network that will have a global outreach is a challenging task, to put it mildly. I actually had no idea what I was getting myself into, but I was confident that I would see this through because I had the groundWork and Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) team behind me. Read more

South Africa | Global Green and Healthy Hospitals Member Exchange

Posted on: 1 December 2016

On November 23rd and 24th, GGHH members in South Africa from the provinces of Western Cape, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal came together to share their experiences, strategies, and approaches to sustainable health care with one another. Read more

South Africa | Zero Mercury Plans

Posted on: 24 November 2016

Source: groundWork

Zero Mercury is the goal, as the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) in collaboration with the Africa Institute plans its Global Environment Facility(GEF) funded Mercury Initial Assessment Project (MIA). This effort together with DEA’s Mercury inventory and cost benefit analysis project and the recent National Consultative Workshop on mercury added products (MAPS), are the first steps government, private sector and NGOs are taking towards the ratification and subsequent implementation of the Minamata Convention. Read more

South Africa | GGHH Side Event at World Hospital Congress

Posted on: October 31, 2016

Source: groundWork

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. Read more.

Image Gallery | GGHH Side Event at World Hospital Congress

Posted on: October 31, 2016

Image gallery from the GGHH Side Event where Health care institutions from around the globe gathered on October 30, 2016 for the start of the 40th World Health Congress. See photos.



South Africa | KwaZulu-Natal Hospitals on Board

Posted on: July 5, 2016

Article by Luqman Yesufu, GGHH Campaign Manager, Membership Outreach and Engagement in Africa

groundWork, through the Global Green and Healthy Hospital (GGHH) initiative, has been working with health care leaders and hospitals for the past six years on the issues of sustainable waste management strategies that will promote environmental health in both the hospital and the environment. In this regard, by properly sorting and reducing waste, hospitals can achieve two things: they can avoid the disposal cost and reduce the environmental hazards of the waste, thereby being more environmentally responsible. Read more

South Africa | GGHH Annual Community Planning Meeting

Posted on: 18 January 18 2016

The 2016 GGHH South Africa community planning meeting for will take place from the 19th to the 21st of January 2016, in the city of Kwazulu-Natal. The event brings together GGHH members from around the country to engage and collaborate with each other, celebrate achievements from 2015, and learn about the upcoming GGHH member offerings and programs for 2016 as they plan for the year ahead. Read more

South Africa | Launch of the 2015 groundWork Report on Climate and Energy

Posted on: 11 January 2016

Source: groundWork (*)

The groundWork reports are published annually to examine the state of environmental justice in relation to particular themes.

The report is published on the start of the climate negotiations in Paris where a new treaty is supposed to be inked. It argues not only that the negotiations will not produce a result adequate to the challenge, but that the parties are looking for a dysfunctional climate regime. It opens with an account of the scale of emission reductions now required and a rapid survey of already dangerous climate impacts. It then gives a brief history of the negotiation process to account for how it has achieved ever more dismal outcomes. All countries have submitted pledges to the UNFCCC ahead of the Paris COP and the sum of them adds up to disaster. Read more and access the report

South Africa | Spotlight on Climate, Energy, and Air Pollution at Public Health Conference

Posted: 22 October 2015

Facilitated by Health Care Without Harm’s Strategic Partner in South Africa, groundWork, climate change, energy choices, and air pollution were prominently featured at the Public Health Association of South Africa (PHASA) Conference held in Durban on October 7-9, 2015.

The opening plenary session of the PHASA Conference was dedicated to the topic of sustainable development. It featured Health Care Without Harm’s senior advisor Dr. Peter Orris, Professor and Chief of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, University of Illinois at Chicago (USA), who spoke about the health sector’s impact on sustainable development. Following Dr. Orris. Read more

Video | The Bliss of Ignorance

Posted on: 14 August 2015

Through first-hand testimony The Bliss of Ignorance investigates South Africa's complex relationship with one of the country's most abundant resources: coal. With experts predicting the creation of a "sick" generation in the Mpumalanga region (which is home to 12 of the world's largest power stations), this documentary looks at the impact of South Africa's energy policy - particularly the support for Eskom's coal-fired power stations - on public health. Read more

Chemicals in Africa

Posted on: 12 August 2015

Globally, researchers are describing a pandemic of childhood developmental disabilities. In the US, where advanced surveillance techniques are well established and sensitive enough to detect patterns over time, the numbers are ringing alarm bells! The U.S. Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reported that between 2006 and 2008 approximately two million more US children were diagnosed with developmental disabilities (including autism, neurobehavioral development disorder and attention defi cit hyperactivity disorder) compared with a decade earlier. Read more

South Africa | A Sustainable Health Future

Posted on: 7 August 2015 

In Africa, the Western Cape Government Health Department, which is already a member of GGHH, has pledged to the 2020 HCCC, specifically committing to "reducing its carbon footprint from energy consumption at government hospitals in the Western Cape Province… by 10% in 2020 and 30% in 2030 based on the 2005 levels, which amounts to saving about 15000 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually." Read more

Image Gallery | South Africa: GGHH Members Forum Meeting Aide Memoire

Posted: 5 June 2015

The GGHH Forum meeting was born out of the strategic planning meeting GGHH members in Africa had at the beginning of the year. They decided to meet quarterly and discuss their ongoing projects while also planning activities for their future projects. Visit gallery


South Africa | GGHH Members Participate in Public Health Conference

Posted on: 6 May 2015 

Global Green and Healthy Hospitals members Stellenbosch University and Khayelitsha Hospital travelled to share their sustainability programs at the Fourth Edition of the annual Africa Health Congress held in Johannesburg, South Africa between the 5th and 6th of May 2015.

Sustainability coordinators from each hospital presented at the Public Health Conference, organized by Africa Health in association with the Public health Association of South Africa (PHASA). 

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GGHH Webinar Series | Free Webinar on Ebola and Health Care Waste: Lessons from West Africa

Posted on: 9 April 2015

A Webinar with Dr. Jorge Emmanuel, world renowned expert on health care waste treatment technologies, who has just returned from two months working with UNDP in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.

With three West African countries deep in crisis and health systems on the brink of collapse from the Ebola outbreak last year, governments and health care providers were faced with the monumental task of disposing of large amounts of highly infectious waste. Read more.

South Africa | Unpacking Climate Change

Posted On: 15 October 2013

HCWH Partner Organization, groundWork, has published a short guide intended to make the debate on climate change and health more accessible to a general audience. The first section of the Guide looks at the pattern of climate change over the last million years. It also introduces the greenhouse gases which cause global warming. The second section introduces the international climate institutions – the International Panel on Climate. 

West Africa | Autoclaves Deployed to Help Anti-Ebola Campaign

Posted on: 28 January 2015

As efforts to stem the Ebola outbreak in West Africa continue, a new design of autoclave is being deployed to help make the treatment of infectious waste safe environmentally sustainable. Treating patients with Ebola generates huge amounts of infectious waste, including the used suits that the healthcare workers use to protect themselves while they work. In a lot of treatment centers, the only option has been to burn the waste in barrels, bury it in pits, or use low-tech incinerators which emit a huge amount of pollutants and create toxic ash. In contrast, autoclaves are far more environmentally friendly.

South Africa | GGHH Members to Mitigate Climate Change

Posted on: 30 September 2014

The health sector's mandate is to prevent and cure disease, yet the deliver of health care services, most notably in hosptals, often inadvertently contributes to the problem. The Western Cape Department of Health has, with the facilitation of NGO groundWork, recognized this problem and has signed onto an international initiative called the Global Green and Healthy Hospitals (GGHH), which aims to reduce the ecological footprint of healthcare operations to promote publlic health through a clenar and safer environment. Read more

Morocco| First Symposium on Sustainable Development in the Health Sector

Posted on: 2 November 2014

On October 30th and 31th, 2014, the Mohammed VI University Hospital of Marrakesh, the first GGHH member from Morocco held its first annual symposium on sustainable development in the health sector. Sponsored by the Moroccan Ministry of Health and Ministry of the Environment, the event brought together 120 participants from the hospital and scintific community to discuss environmentally responsible approches to health care in Morocco and abroad. Read more

South Africa | Advocacy for a Healthy Energy Policy

Posted on: 15 November 2013

Between April and September 2013, HCWH partner organization groundWork hosted and participated of three Health and Energy roundtables attended by key players in the health and energy sectors in the Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

The roundtables identified the health impacts of current energy policy and systems; began to develop an advocacy position for a healthy energy policy, as well as a strategy for informing and mobilizing the health sector on energy and health. Read more