Sustainable Healthcare Newsletter December 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 membership in Australia and New Zealand now stands at over 1,000 health services, organisations and facilities represented by 75 institutional members. This demonstrates the growing recognition from health services that action to reduce our environmental footprint 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 very pleased to welcome Gosford Private Hospital as GGHH members. There are now 75 GGHH members in the Pacific Region.

Healthcare Climate Challenge recognised in the 2019 Lancet Countdown Report

The 2019 Lancet Countdown Report has recognised GGHH's Healthcare Climate Challenge as playing an important role in the response of the healthcare sector to climate change. The Challenge works to mobilise healthcare services to reduce their GHG emissions, improve resilience and demonstrate leadership for climate action.

To date, challenge participants have collectively committed to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions by more than 34 million tons of CO2e per year (the equivalent of a year of carbon emissions from 9 coal fired power plants)

Join the Healthcare Climate Challenge here...

Resource lists available on GGHH Connect in 10 GGHH goal areas

GGHH Connect now includes sustainability goal resources to help members reach their sustainability objectives. You can find a variety of resources covering each of the 10 goal areas such as fact sheets, purchasing guides and frameworks. We will be adding more resources over time.

If you've used resources that you think would be valuable to share with GGHH members worldwide, please contact us at [email protected]

Sustainable Healthcare News 

Sydney air pollution calls for people to protect their health & politicians to act on climate

"In the week to 6 December, about 1,140 people presented to NSW emergency departments, 25% more than the usual weekly average. The largest increases have been in South Western Sydney Local Health District, which serves a region particularly affected by smoke. NSW Ambulance fielded about 2,330 calls in the same period, about 30% more than the average for a week". Read more here...

With 'hazardous' air pollution from bushfire smoke blanketing Sydney, Executive Director of the Climate and Health Alliance Fiona Armstrong called on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to act swiftly to reduce emissions to help protect our climate and our health. Read more here...

Four more medical organisations declare climate change a health emergency in our region

The Australasian College of Emergency Medicine (ACEM), the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM), the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) and the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand have declared climate change a health emergency. The organisations have recognised that climate change exacerbates existing health inequalities and increases demand on the health sector as disasters become more frequent and intense.

Read more here... and here...



Healthcare without single-use plastic?

Practice GreenHealth have estimated that 25 per cent of the waste generated by a hospital is plastic. Despite the many barriers to overcome, more and more hospitals across the world are looking for ways to reduce their plastic waste and replace single use items with reusable equipment.



Country NSW giving decommissioned medical equipment new life

Operation Hope have gathered unused or decommissioned medical equipment from hospitals in country NSW. The equipment will be returned to service and donated to hospitals in Northern Iraq. This equipment would otherwise have found its way to landfill, but is now being used in hospitals who provide healthcare to thousands of refugees. 



How can surgeons tackle climate change?

There are many opportunities for health care professionals to take action on climate change and improve the health of their patients and the wider population. Advocacy plays a vital role in this. Professor Alistar Woodward compares health professionals banding together to advocate for action on climate change today to those who successfully joined forces to tackle road trauma with the introduction of seat belts in the 1970s. Along with advocacy, he suggests practical changes surgeons can take to reduce their climate impact, such as using telemedicine to reduce emissions from long distance travel. 



Health care and climate resilience in Australia - ABC Podcast

Fiona Armstrong, executive director of Climate and Health Alliance and Dr Marianne Cannon, an emergency physician, met to discuss the need for hospitals to prepare for changing patient presentations due to climate change in Australia and why health care professionals are stepping up calls to address the impact of climate change on health.

Listen to the discussion here...


Clearing the Air - sign & spread the word!

Australian Environment Ministers will next year decide on new air pollution standards for three dangerous pollutants connected to the burning of fossil fuels: nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide and ozone.

These pollutants can have harmful effects on people’s health - even at levels well below Australia’s current standards.

We need strong, health-based air pollution standards to reduce the risk and harm to people’s health these pollutants cause, and to accelerate the transition away from dirty fossil fuels to clean, safer technologies.

Right now we have a chance to secure stronger air pollution standards. Will you sign the petition asking all Australian Environment Ministers to cut air pollution and protect our climate and our health by supporting stronger standards?

Education and Events


Global Congress for Climate Change & Sustainability Professionals - Virtual Congress

11 & 12 December 2019, Online

International Society for Sustainability Professionals (ISSP) are hosting a Virtual Congress, bringing together professionals from different sectors to explore how we can work together to make meaningful progress on climate change and sustainability.

Watch plenary presentations, participate in sessions live via online chat and discussion forums with peers from around the world.

As the Global Congress is hosted in Chicago, USA session times on the website are given for US Central time. The first day of plenary sessions begin at 6am AEDT on December 11 and the second day begins at 11am AEDT on December 12. Recordings will be available online immediately after each session and the online discussion forums are open from December 12 -20.

Register here...

Sustainable Healthcare Forum Aotearoa & Climate Change and Health Conference

16 & 17 June 2020, Wellington New Zealand

Save the date for the Sustainable Health Forum Aotearoa and the Climate Change & Health Conference. It will feature a keynote address from Dr David Pencheon, former Director of the National Health Services' Sustainable Development Unit in the UK.

Keep an eye on your inbox in the coming months - we will let you know when registration opens. More details to come!

Check out last years forum, including recordings and slides here.


Sax Institute Roundtable on the health response to climate change

This October, the Sax Institute and the University of Sydney hosted a roundtable discussion about how the Australian healthcare system is responding to the health challenges presented by climate change and how the sector can work to become more sustainable. The roundtable brought together a range of experts to discuss topics including: responding to changing patterns of illness and disease, healthcare's carbon footprint and current efforts across the sector to address these challenges.

Attendees agreed there needs to be a greater effort to collaborate on solutions and bring the health impacts of climate change to the forefront of public health discussions.



Research, Resources and Reports


Waste and sustainability in dental practices

A team of British dentists have written a series of papers exploring sustainability in dentistry. Their final piece outlines how to incorporate sustainability into a dental practice by engaging both staff and patients. Their recommendations are useful for a range of healthcare settings, including dental and GP practices and hospital wards.


Cochrane launch Sustainable Healthcare field

Cochrane produce systematic reviews of medical research, with the goal of making evidence-based information accessible to healthcare professionals around the world. They have just launched Cochrane Sustainable Healthcare to bring together research in this area. The new hub will contain research about tackling medical excess and reducing waste, with the overall aim of advocating for more sustainable healthcare systems and reducing direct and indirect harms to patients.

Access the Sustainable Healthcare Field here...


GGHH webinar recording - Tackling AMR in European healthcare facilities

This webinar presents the results of HCWH Europe’s recent survey to identify best practice to tackle AMR in healthcare facilities across Europe. Watch it here.

The webinar aims to:

  • Raise awareness about the contribution of Europe’s healthcare sector to the emergence of antimicrobial resistance
  • Highlight and share best practice among healthcare facilities on how to address the development and spread of drug-resistant bacteria
  • Discuss and identify further room for action to help keep antibiotics effective in the treatment of bacterial infections

Medical Pantry

The Medical Pantry accept donations of surplus medical supplies and equipment from Australian hospitals and partner with charitable organisations to deliver them to communities, wildlife sanctuaries and medical relief groups in need around the world. By providing these valuable medical supplies to those in need, Medical Pantry also create a more sustainable health system by helping hospitals to reduce their waste and saving supplies from landfill.


Medsalv giving single-use items a second chance

New Zealand company Medsalv collect, clean, test and inspect non-invasive 'single-use' medical equipment and resell it to hospitals around the country for re-use. Examples of equipment collected include single-use items with expired sterile packaging, which Medsalv are able to re-sterilise, saving the equipment from landfill.



The environmental impact of pharmaceutical manufacturing - video

As part of World Antibiotic Awareness Week, Safer Pharma have released a video about the environmental impact of antibiotic manufacturing. The video shows how pharmaceutical manufacturing can cause pollution and the consequences of these medications entering the environment.

Watch the video here...


ANMF medical waste sorting challenge

The Australian Nursing & Midwifery Federation (ANMF) Victorian branch have created a game that lets you practice the best ways to dispose of waste commonly found in healthcare settings. Do you know which bin your waste belongs in?

Click here to take the challenge...



2019 Lancet Countdown Report: Tracking Progress on Health & Climate Change

The Lancet's annual report tracks the relationship between climate change and health. A key message of this year's report was the impact of climate change on the next generation, with the Lancet finding:

"The life of every child born today will be profoundly affected by climate change, with populations around the world increasingly facing extremes of weather, food and water insecurity, changing patterns of infectious disease, and a less certain future."

However, with a strong global commitment to meet the targets laid out in the Paris Agreement we could see the world reach net zero emissions by 2050. Health care professionals are called upon to continue communicating the health risks of climate change and to advocate for strong action on climate change across the sector.

The report also recognises the contribution of GGHH's Healthcare Climate Challenge towards the health care sector's response to climate change.

Click here to read the report


MJA-Lancet Countdown Report on Health & Climate Change in Australia

The Medical Journal of Australia have partnered with the Lancet for a second year to produce an assessment of Australia's progress on climate change and health. Their report shows that Australians are at increasing risk of poor physical and mental health due to the impact of heatwaves. There is opportunity for the healthcare sector to take action by focusing on more sustainable procurement practices and advocating for climate change as a health issue.

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 Healthy 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!