Following a great gala dinner last night, the final day of CleanMed Europe 2018 began with parallel sessions on circular solutions for healthcare, sustainable healthcare leadership and management, sustainable procurement of clothing and materials forhealthcare, the 'win-win' of lowering the carbon footprint of healthcare and much more.
Susanne Backer from Aarhus University Hospital highlighted the fact that medical packaging and food packaging differ in their recyclability and advocated for a reduction in PVC, laminates, and combinations of paper and plastic.
Simon Aumonier from Environmental Resources Management showed that healthcare contributes approximately 10% to global GDP and therefore has a large impact (3-5%) on GHG emissions. We need to rethink our approach at circularity focusing on reducing the consumption of products in addition to redesigning those products and shift to early healthcare interventions.
Building leadership for environmental health is one of the overarching goals of HCWH in order to achieve large-scale transformational change. Both Charlotta Brask, Sustainability Director at the Stockholm County Council and Neil Ritchie from the Green Health Leader's Initiative, presented their work to reduce the environmental impact and improve social determinants both locally and globally by giving good case studies including textiles management, climate change adaptation and resiliency, and educational and engagement programs. They also highlighted challenges encountered, and encouraged health professionals to play a key leadership role for their suppliers, and other organisations to take more serious steps towards improving their environmental and social performance.
In an interactive session Greening the pharmacy through a clinical approach Dr Ted Schieh described the significant opportunity to address both the environmental impact and the escalating cost of healthcare through an upstream approach toward the use of pharmaceuticals.
Today was “leftovers day” for the caterers, who provided us with not only another excellent vegetarian lunch – but also one that used leftovers that would have been otherwise wasted. We then finished in the afternoon with a plenary moderated Health Care Without Harm President and Co-founder Gary Cohen, who explained how Climate Smart Healthcare initiated from a need to address both the climate footprint i.e. mitigation and adapting to climate change i.e. resilience. Previous action has tended to focus on only one. Gary explained how HCWH developed this concept in a report with the World Bank. Before introducing the first speaker, Gary reflected on a recent headline – 10 Florida hospitals were evacuated during a hurricane – demonstrating the lack of resilience.
Nick Thorp then spoke about GGHH - Global Green and Healthy Hospitals – Health Care Without Harm’s global network of like-minded organisations sharing the same goals as the CleanMed Europe audience – sustainable healthcare. Nick introduced the Health Care Climate Challenge, highlighting many examples of healthcare facilities and systems participating in the challenge who work to reduce their climate footprint. Members in Morocco and Nepal are investing in solar technology to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and move toward carbon neutrality. In Taiwan member hospitals grow a majority of their own vegetarian food for patients and provide them with meals during and after their care. Looking to Barts Health NHS Trust in the UK, Nick also showed how energy efficiency can be increased through a low-cost behaviour change programme.
Introducing the next speaker - Vladimir Kendrovski from the WHO European Centre for Environment and Health – Gary reflected on the long-standing collaboration between HCWH and the WHO, which started with their work to phase-out mercury. Vladimir’s presentation began with the question: Can healthcare help prepare for the growing impacts of climate change? He also stressed the need for action now – saying the comparison to action on tobacco was not an appropriate model – as it would be too slow for climate action.
Vladimir defined a climate resilient health system as one that is capable to anticipate, respond to, cope with, recover from, and adapt to climate-related shocks and stress, so as to bring sustained improvements in population health, despite an unstable climate.
Environmental determinants cause 1.4 million deaths annually in the European Region. Climate change also exacerbates deaths from water quality and access to sanitary water – currently 14 people per day die from diarrhoea in the European Region. Vladimir closed by reflecting on the Ostrava Declaration from the sixth ministerial conference on environment and health, which included the action: build environmentally sustainable health systems.
Didier Bourdon from APHP gave a short presentation calling for expressions of interest for sustainable development in such areas as energy, mobility, catering, waste management, and healthcare products. Interested parties can submit their proposal on the platform: ami-dd.aphp.fr - which will be open from 8 November – 31 January.
Jeff Thompson engaged with the audience of sustainable leaders, asking them - how are they going to lead? Irrespective of what your title or position may be you can lead – you don’t have to be a CEO! A great way to lead is to find internal and external partners – good partners share values and goals, but often don’t have the same culture and produce excellent work. Data is also another great lever to motivate and move your audience. Jeff spoke of the value of inspirational goals to engage bright innovative thinkers to achieve your ambitions. A disregard for conventional wisdom and a structured approach are key aspects of innovation, as well as the courage to act – Jeff highlighted the importance of a diverse team. In the context of current political developments and changing attitudes to climate change, Jeff’s parting message was “what you tolerate: you support” – so act today.
Nick Thorp returned to the stage to present awards for Healthcare Climate Challenge participants – firstly mentioning absentees Stockholm County Council and Sussex Community NHS Trust – he then presented awards to the CHU Marrakech and our conference hosts: Radboud university medical center for their efforts towards sustainability and 100% renewable energy.
Wouter van Wijhe, Sustainability Advisor took to the stage to thank the HCWH and Radboudumc teams who organised the CleanMed Europe 2018 conference as well as his colleagues and Radboud students who have volunteered and presented during the conference. Looking back on the fantastic three days, Wouter thanked participants and noted the inspiring continued ambition in the sustainable healthcare movement that has been displayed at CleanMed Europe.
Harriët Tiemens, Vice-mayor of Nijmegen and sustainability leader helped close what has been a stimulating and successful conference by thanking all participants and organisers of CleanMed Europe for their inspiring presentations, and their continued leadership in sustainable healthcare, she expressed hope that the audience have learned from Nijmegen’s example and will continue the mission of sustainable healthcare.
We hope that the connections and networks you have built here will continue, and that you will continue to act!
All conference photos can be found here and are free to use when accredited to HCWH Europe.