Welcome to the Sustainable Healthcare newsletter for February, our first for 2019! Despite it being early in the year, there is already lots going on. Read on for a run down of COP24, the increasing phenomenon of climate migrants, a pledge from the ALP, and several learning opportunities in the health care sector.
A reminder to all GGHH members, there will be a quarterly meeting on February 28th at 1pm AEDT.
Welcome to the new members of Global Green and Healthy Hospitals Pacific network
GGHH is pleased to welcome several new members this month from Victoria and New South Wales. Welcome to Goulburn Valley Health (Victoria), Victorian Allied Health Professionals Association, Uniting War Memorial Hospital (Sydney), Hunter New England Local Health District (NSW) and St John of God Hospitals in Burwood and Richmond (NSW). These hospitals and associations are involved in healthcare for many different members of the community and we are pleased to welcome them on board to GGHH.
GGHH: Share your work!
If you are working on a project or just completed a change in practice at your workplace and would like to showcase your work please contact us about developing a case study at [email protected]
Case study: Kids' War on Waste
GGHH member Sydney Children's Hospital Network (SCHN) thought out of the box last year for ways to raise awareness of increased hospital waste and poor recycling. SCHN had found that on average 50% of what was being disposed in clinical waste bins could be disposed of in general waste. Placing items in the correct bins reduces costs and carbon emissions. SCHN introduced the Kids' War on Waste program, getting kids and staff at the hospital involved through fun activities such as a waste fashion parade, kids' theatre shows and staff team talks. Take a look at this very informative video featuring some kids from SCHN and click the link below to read the case study.
Case study: Promote and enable Climate Action
GGHH member, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF), Victorian Branch has a long history in campaigning and motivating nurses and midwives to action, so when members asked them to help raise awareness about the impacts of climate change on health they soon became a driving force in Victoria.
Their action has included developing face to face education and training for nurses and midwives, running an annual conference that attracts 600-750 attendees, taking practical steps to develop sustainable practices at the branch offices and engage with the Department of Health to increase environmental sustainability in the delivery of public health services.
ANMF (Vic Branch) is a professional and industrial organisation representing over 83,000 nurses and midwives in Victoria. The ANMF (Vic Branch) is a State Branch of the Federation nationally which represents the professional, industrial and political interests of more than 275,000 nurses, midwives and carers across the country.
Addressing the carbon footprint of healthcare organisations
The December issue of Public Health Research and Practice focused entirely on climate change and health. The issue has a number of excellent articles on various aspects of climate and health, however, our favourite article discusses eight ways that healthcare organisations can address their carbon footprint. This article is a great guide if you're feeling unsure of how to start addressing climate change in your workplace, and features one particularly important tip - to join the Global Green and Healthy Hospitals network!
Recognition of excellent efforts by GGHH member
GGHH member Bertha Gxowa Hospital in South Africa has been acknowledged for its efforts to improve recycling and minimise healthcare waste at the Gauteng Health Khanyisa Awards. Representatives from the hospital have acknowledged the impact that medical and general waste from the hospital can have, including releasing toxins through leaching or when the waste is burnt. The team won for their innovation and commitment to waste management using minimal resources.
Health sector engagement at COP24
In December, more than 28,000 people gathered in Katowice, Poland for the UN Climate Change Conference (COP24). The 6th day of the conference provided an opportunity to discuss health and climate change at the Global Climate and Health Summit. Take a look at the Health Care Without Harm blog to read about their involvement in the day, as well as an exciting vision from Radbound University for climate-smart healthcare.
If you'd like to find out more about what went on at COP24, take a look at the CAHA blog where Professor Hilary Bambrick has written about her time there.
And finally, read the special report from WHO on Health and Climate Change which was delivered at COP24. The report provides information on the connection between climate change and health, ways in which the health community are implementing the Paris agreement, and recommendations for policy makers for maximising the health benefits of tackling climate change.
Health care services switching to solar
Health professionals are becoming increasingly conscious of the impacts of climate change on health. However, as members of GGHH will be aware, the health sector itself has a large carbon footprint, contributing to 7% of Australia's total carbon footprint, mainly through its reliance on coal fired electricity. As this article in Croakey discusses, switching to solar can completely offset your workplace's carbon emissions. If you are a member of GGHH and are trying to find ways to achieve your energy goals, take a look for inspiration on the positive impacts that introducing solar power can have on your workplace.
Harvard Medical School commits to Decarbonising Health Care
Following the release of last year's Lancet Countdown U.S. brief on climate change and health, Harvard Medical School in the U.S. and its affiliated hospitals and institutes have committed to decarbonising their operations in order to reduce their carbon footprint. The Harvard Global Health Institute has acknowledged the large impact that healthcare services have on carbon output, and said that they are hoping to lead by example and encourage other healthcare services in the U.S. to do the same.
Clinicians must be prepared for Climate Migrants
The Migrant Clinicians Network have explained the need for healthcare systems to adapt to incoming climate migrants. The network are already seeing patients forced from their homes due to more extreme climate disasters amplified by climate change. They state that the number of climate migrants will only increase as climate change continues to impact food production and health. However, the network notes that clinicians need to be doing all they can to mitigate climate change, thereby preventing people from becoming climate migrants in the first place.
Sustainable design at Shunde Hospital in China
The newly built Shunde Hospital in southeastern China opened in January with a range of impressive sustainable features, marking a change in China's sustainable healthcare practices. Sustainable building design is a new concept for parts of China, however, this new build is being used to inform China's green guide for hospital design. Some of the notable design features include solar panels engineered to be integrated into the architecture, passive cooling, harvesting seasonal winds, and surfaces which aid in reflecting solar radiation.
Focus on: Air Pollution
Air pollution and climate change have been named as one of the biggest threats to global health in 2019 by the WHO. Nine out of ten people are breathing in polluted air every day, which can cause considerable damage to the heart, lungs and brain. WHO also notes that air pollution is a major contributor to climate change, which has its own set of related health issues.
Veronica Manfredi, Director of the European Commissions's Quality of Life Directorate, discusses how air pollution is impacting health and the ways that the EU is aiming to address the issue.
Cleaning products are harming female workers' lungs
A new study has found that using chemical cleaning products may harm female workers' lungs as much as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. The study also found that women who use spray cleaning products at home as little as once a week are also at risk of harm. The researchers found that the products may cause immunological issues, inflammation of mucosal membranes, and cell and tissue damage in the airways. Women are disproportionately impacted as they represent the majority of the domestic cleaning workforce, and are responsible for the majority of cleaning at home.
ALP commitment to a national climate, health and well-being strategy
Shadow Minister for Health Catherine King and Shadow Minister for Climate Change Mark Butler have pledged that the Australian Labor Party, in government, will develop a National Strategy for Climate, Health and Well-being, based on the framework developed by the Climate and Health Alliance and Our Climate Our Health supporters.
The Our Climate, Our Health Campaign still needs your help to make the national climate-health strategy a reality! Please encourage your local MP to pledge their commitment. See the OCOH website for an easy email template, and an advocacy toolkit for information on meeting your local MP.
Join the Health Care Climate Challenge
Hospitals and healthcare centres can sign up for the Health Care Climate Challenge. By joining, your workplace will make a climate leadership pledge to reduce your carbon footprint, to prepare for the impacts of climate change and to lead the way for a low-carbon future.
Education and Webinars
A multi-sectoral approach to antimicrobial resistance
Antimicrobial resistance is a significant public health challenge, as is reducing pharmaceutical waste from healthcare. There are growing concerns over the waste created during the production of anti-microbials and the potential link it has to furthering antimicrobial resistance. Healthcare Without Harm have released an online webinar discussing multi-sectoral approaches to tackling antimicrobial resistance.
Building sustainable food systems in healthcare
In October 2018, Health Care Without Harm Europe hosted a workshop to discuss opportunities and experiences in delivery sustainable and healthy food options in healthcare facilities. The workshop covered topics including procurement, waste management and staff training. A full report from the workshop, including presentations, can be found here.
Learn about the health impacts of climate change from Harvard University
Harvard University is offering a FREE online course covering the impacts of climate change on health. The course will cover topics including air quality, infectious diseases, nutrition, migration and responding to the challenge of climate change.
What IS Climate Change?
Do you feel confident in being able to explain what climate change actually is? The Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments has acknowledged that discussing climate change may not be as simple as it sounds. They are calling on all nurses to help address climate change and as such, they have given a handy summary of what exactly climate change is.
For another great resource on all things climate change and energy, take a look at the Climate Council's Energy Facts Australia website. Here you'll find several explainers on key topics to do with energy in Australia, to help strengthen your understanding.
February 18: EPA Environmental science series: PFAS - Exposure and Health Effects
Join the EPA on February 18th for a free seminar on the risks of per- and poly-fluorinated alkyl substance (PFAS) contamination. This seminar will discuss the chemical nature of these compounds as well as their impacts on environmental and public health.
May 7-9: Climate and health awards at CleanMed
CleanMed is an annual conference for leaders in healthcare sustainability, held in the U.S.. Each year, Healthcare Without Harm along with Practice Greenhealth present awards for innovation in leadership and programs in sustainable healthcare. If you know someone who has been a leader in sustainable healthcare, through strategies and mentorship, nominate them for the Visionary Leader Award. If you are involved in a hospital or healthcare system which has been making strides to address the health impacts of climate change, you can apply for the Climate and Health innovation award.