That there are strong links between the health of our environment and the health of individuals and of communities is indisputable. The World Health Organization found, in 2016, that almost one quarter of the global burden of disease and approximately 12.6 million deaths each year are attributable to modifiable environmental factors. According to American research published in 1999, about ten per cent of the expression the health of a population is attributable to environment, 20 per cent to health services, 30 per cent to risk factors and 40 per cent to social determinants.
Health services arguably have a role in doing what they can to moderate their environmental impact, while providing leadership in the community.
The international Global Green and Healthy Hospitals (GGHH) Network is the initiative of the international organisation Healthcare without Harm. The Melbourne-based Climate and Health Alliance coordinates the GGHH network in Australia and New Zealand.
The GGHH network promotes public and environmental health and aims to assist hospitals, health care facilities, health systems, and health organisations reduce their environmental footprint.
More than 32,300 hospitals and health centres around the world, including 793 in the Pacific region, are members of GGHH. Australian members range from women’s and children’s and major metropolitan hospitals to small rural hospitals and health services.
Members use innovation, ingenuity, and investment to transform their energy use and environmental impact and foster a healthy sustainable future; in many cases reducing their costs at the same time.
Members of GGHH are able to learn about and assess their interest in addressing any of the ten GGHH goals and take action to measure and reduce their institution's environmental footprint. They can access a data centre to help them measure their institution’s footprint and track progress, an online global collaboration platform to connect with other GGHH members, and online education and documents to learn about sustainable health and assist their sustainable health care actions.
The ten goals of GGHH
- Prioritise environmental health through health service leadership
- Substitute harmful chemicals with safer alternatives
- Reduce, treat and safely dispose of healthcare waste
- Implement energy efficiency and clean, renewable energy generation
- Reduce hospital water consumption and supply potable water
- Improve transportation strategies for patients and staff
- Purchase and serve sustainably grown, healthy food
- Safely manage and dispose of pharmaceuticals
- Support green and healthy hospital design and construction
- Buy safer and more sustainable products and materials
Many hospitals and health services have already made improvements. In Australia and our region: a New Zealand health service enhanced its theatre recycling resulting in financial benefits, reduced emissions, increased job satisfaction, and improved morale; a regional health service in Victoria addressed energy efficiencies and installed rooftop solar hot water systems, reducing its greenhouse gas emissions, and making cost savings; a major Australian hospital changed 2,993 hospital carpark lightbulbs, reducing energy consumption, with a two year return on investment; a Malaysian dialysis centre reduced its carbon footprint by promoting vegetarianism and utilising reusable food containers; and a Nepalese ophthalmology institute reduced waste to landfill by introducing recycling (raising revenue through sale of scrap), and installed 156 solar panels thereby saving 432 litres of diesel fuel per week. Read more case studies at https://www.greenhospitals.net/case-studies/
Visit the GGHH website at https://www.greenhospitals.net/ or contact GGHH at the Climate and Health Alliance at http://www.caha.org.au/globalgreen_healthyhospitals