The Climate and Health Alliance and Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Assocations co-hosted a “Greening the Health Sector Policy Think Tank” in Sydney in August 2012.
This event was attended by 52 enthusiastic participants from a range of health facilities, state departments and universities. We certainly achieved our aim of starting an important conversation about how hospitals and healthcare providers can reduce their own carbon footprints (mitigation), and in doing so how the Australian health system can be strengthened through the promotion of greater sustainability and environmental health. While hospitals have a big ”environmental footprint”, many are finding that sustainability measures benefit patients and the environment and offer financial savings. We also discussed the role of the health sector in building capacity to deal with the impact of climate change on health services (adaptation). A Policy Issues Brief on this topic was drafted for the AHHA’s Institute, and circulated to registrants ahead of the PTT.
The keynote speaker was Professor Peter Orris from the USA, Senior Advisor from CAHA’s international partner organisation, Health Care Without Harm.
Professor Orris is the Director of the Occupational Health Service Institute and Global Chemicals Policy Program at the University of Illinois School of Public Health, a component of a WHO Collaborating Center. Dr Orris has served as advisor to WHO, PAHO, Federal, State and Local Governments, environmental organizations, labor unions and corporations.
A series of Canberra-based meetings were organized with Peter in the two-days ahead of the PTT including with the Minister for Health and Ageing (Tanya Plibersek), the Minister for Climate Change’s Chief of Staff (Allan Behm), Senators Richard Di Natale and Nick Xenophon and officers from the Departments of Health and Ageing and Climate Change and Energy Efficiency. Professor Orris also presented a seminar for the staff at the Department of Climate Change with about 50 attendees.
Other speakers included:
- Dr Kate Charlesworth, Public Health Registrar previously from the NHS Sustainable Development Unit
- Mr Glen Hadfield, Manager, Asset Systems & Sustainability, Western Sydney Local Health District
- Dr Forbes McGain, Anaesthetist and Intensive Care Physician, Western Health Footscray, Vic
- Professor Tony Capon, Head of the Discipline of Public Health Faculty of Health University of Canberra