Sustainable Healthcare Newsletter October 2019

Welcome to the latest Sustainable Healthcare newsletter. Read on for news, research, resources, events and more!

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Global Green and Healthy Hospitals (GGHH) membership in Australia and New Zealand now stands at over 1,000 health services, organisations and facilities represented by  73 institutional members. This represents the growing recognition from health services that action to reduce our impact on the environment and on carbon emissions is critical to our focus on community health and well-being.

If you would like to join the Global Green and Healthy Hospitals network, visit the website or email [email protected] 

Welcome to our new GGHH members

We are pleased to welcome on board eight new members to Global Green and Healthy Hospitals since our last newsletter. The Australian Medical Association, East Metropolitan Health Service (WA), King Edward Memorial Hospital (WA), Western Australia Country Health Service, St Vincent's Private Hospital Lismore (NSW), Sydney Local Health District, Tasmanian Health Service - South and Ambulance Victoria.

Greening the Healthcare Sector Forum 2019 - Slides and recordings available

The Greening the Healthcare Sector Forum, held by CAHA, Western Health and the Institute for Healthcare Engineering Australia, took place at Western Health in September. The forum was an opportunity for those working in healthcare to come together to focus on the sector's environmental and climate footprint, the big picture changes needed to address its environmental impacts and demonstrate positive steps being taken to make our healthcare system more sustainable.

Topics covered included the carbon footprint of healthcare, climate risk and corporate governance, technological innovations, water and energy planning, wellness and healthy buildings, waste management, social procurement, health and climate change research, environmental strategy and framework development, and more.

The forum included the Australian launch of a report on Healthcare's Climate Footprint detailing the global contribution of healthcare to the climate crisis. To access the report click here.

Click here to watch some of the presentations from the forum and access slides, or read Croakey's summary of the forum here.

Counties Manukau District Health Board reduces emissions by an impressive 26%

GGHH member CMDHB have recently completed their CEMARS audit and have been re-certified. CMDHB's emissions are 26% lower than their baseline year (2011/12), surpassing a reduction target of 20% last year. They have set a new target of reaching carbon neutrality by 2050.  Well done to everyone involved in reducing CMDHB's carbon footprint!

More detail available here.

Melbourne Health Stars in Victorian Premier's Sustainability Awards

Congratulations to GGHH member Melbourne Health who recently won a  Premier's Sustainability Award for their initiative to reduce food waste and provide food for those in need. Melbourne Health have partnered with OzHarvest to donate excess meals produced by the health service. This initiative has seen over 4000 meals per month going to food relief for the community and is projected to remove 9 tonnes of food from landfill each year.

Western Health, also a member of GGHH, were finalists on the night for their program which re-homes secondhand allied health equipment to patients who would otherwise struggle to obtain them. 

Congratulations to Melbourne Health & Western Health!


Health Care Climate Challenge Welcomes 200th Participant

As of September 2019, 200 health care institutions have officially signed the pledge to participate in the Health Care Climate Challenge. By participating in the challenge, these health institutions are actively contributing to creating climate-smart health care. To date, participants have collectively committed to reducing their carbon emissions by more than 34 million tons.

Click here to sign up your workplace and help drive change!

Read more here...


Sustainable Healthcare News 

How will Healthcare Cope with Climate Change?

As we learn more about the health impacts of climate change, it is becoming apparent that heat waves are going to have some of the most devastating effects. Across the globe, from Queensland to Central America emergency rooms are struggling to cope with the influx of patients during periods of high heat. Doctors and health care workers argue that more needs to be done from adaptation strategies such as wider distribution of relevant environmental information, and early warning systems, to mitigating climate change by divesting from fossil fuels.

Read more here and here...

Sustainability in Healthcare October Update

The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services Building Authority's quarterly update includes information about sustainability initiatives being implemented across the health care sector, as well as key sustainability issues of interest.  Access the update here.

Nurses Leading the Fight Against Climate Change

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) in the UK has stated that nurses have a "unique and vital role to play" in advocating for public health action in the face of climate change. The RCN states that nurses and midwives must educate, advocate and lead mitigation against climate change and highlight the public health benefits associated with these actions. 


How GPs can Reduce their Carbon Emissions

In creating a more sustainable healthcare sector, often the focus fall on hospitals and wider health care systems, however, GP practices also have a role to play. Recent research in the UK has shown that unnecessary prescriptions and asthma inhalers containing hydrocarbons are contributing to a considerable proportion of climate emissions in General Practice. 


If you are a GP wanting to reduce the carbon footprint of your practice, the RACGP has a variety of resources on climate change and health.

Green Spaces Improve Individual and Planetary Health

Do you often feel healthier and more at ease after being outdoors? It turns out that you're not alone. Research has revealed the many co-benefits of green spaces for personal health and the health of the planet. Exposure to green spaces improves immune function, decreases inflammatory cytokines, and improves mental health. Alongside this, green spaces in urban areas can sequester carbon to plants and soil, removing it from the atmosphere.


Med students fighting climate change 

Medical and healthcare students around the world joined the Global Climate Strike on September 20, speaking out about the importance of educating students about sustainable healthcare. The students are calling for this to be included in their university curriculum. This will better prepare them to communicate the health risks of climate change and to work within the healthcare system to make the transition to a model sustainable model.


Greening the NHS

A recent report has revealed that the NHS is responsible for 5.4% of the UKs carbon emissions. Thankfully, plenty is being done to fight this statistic. Healthcare workers are reducing their use of single use plastics, doctors are switching to lower impact anaesthetic gases and hospitals are encouraging active and public transport to and from work. 

Read more about what healthcare professionals are doing...

Alongside this, the Shadow Health Secretary has committed to planting a million trees at hospitals across the UK under a Labour government.


CAHA at the Climate Strikes

CAHA was joined by passionate healthcare professionals at the recent September 20 Global Climate Strike. It has been estimated that 100,000 people attended the strikes in Melbourne, with a total of 350,000 in Australia and 4 million people worldwide.

Thank you to all who joined us!

If you're wondering what comes next, read about the "Ban, Plan, Expand" approach described in Croakey.

Education and Events


Sustainability of Healthcare Awards and Colloquium

November 27, Bond University, Gold Coast

Held by Bond University, the Sustainability of Healthcare Awards and Colloquium will recognise innovative healthcare projects contributing to sustainability in the areas of healthcare policy, practice, education, research and health literacy. 

More information and tickets here.


European Healthcare Climate Summit

In September, HCWH brought together over 100 sustainable healthcare leaders from 15 countries for the first annual European Healthcare Climate Summit. The event allowed attendees to share their experiences in implementing sustainable healthcare solutions and to contribute to the development of a Climate-Smart Healthcare Roadmap for 2030.

Click here to learn more about the event and view featured presentations...


Research, Resources and Reports


Call for Submissions - JAMA Network Open Climate Change and Health

JAMA Network Open is calling for submissions of research relating to the health outcomes and risks associated with climate change. This includes the health outcomes associated with heat and air pollution, impacts on mental health and infectious diseases. They are also calling for research which looks at innovative strategies from healthcare systems aiming to ameliorate the impacts of climate change and protect the population.

For more information and guidelines, click here...

A Unique and Necessary Role for Health Professionals

A recent article in PLoS Medicine outlines the critical role that health care professionals have in fighting climate change. The article argues that healthcare professionals must become "tireless champions" and "advocates for human health". This includes leading by example and greening the healthcare sector.




Reducing Emissions From Vehicle Fleets

A study undertaken in Victoria found that 11% of the state health systems environmental impact is linked to transport. In order to address this, the Victorian Department of Health & Human Services have made resources available here to support health services to improve the efficiency of their vehicle fleets. 

Envision Hands

Envision Hands are a not-for-profit group who use recycled plastic from bottle tops to create 3D printed prosthetic hands for children in need. They are aiming to collect 2 million bottle tops to transform them into prosthetic hands and other aids.

To find out how to recycle bottle caps from your organisation, visit the Envision Hands webpage here.


Free Online Course on Climate Change and Health

A free, self-paced online course created by a member of the IPCC provides students with an overview of the impacts of climate and health, what policies are needed to tackle it and how to engage with policy makers to fight for change. 



Health Care's Climate Footprint

"If the global health care sector were a country, it would be the 5th largest emitter on the planet"

A new report by Health Care Without Harm and Arup details the impact that health care is having on the planet through food, energy use, transport and anaesthetic gases. It argues for the need to transform the health care sector to reduce its impact and align it with the Paris Agreement 1.5 degree goal, while maintaining the goal of providing universal health coverage. 

Read more about the report here.

Read the full report here


If you would like to share information about something you've been working on, or something you've found helpful via this newsletter, please email it to [email protected]


If you are interested in signing your organisation up to become a member of the Global Green and Health Hospitals Network, please click here to see more details about the program and how to join or email [email protected]

This newsletter is brought to you by the Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA). Did you know individuals, as well as organisations, can join CAHA?

If you like what we do, and would like to support our work, please join and become a member of the Climate and Health Alliance. You will be joining a dynamic effort to ensure people's health and well-being is central to national and global efforts to respond to climate change. To join CAHA, follow this link!