European healthcare professionals and patient groups want to end the use of hazardous chemicals in medical devices

Brussels — Ahead of the European Parliament’s Committee of Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) vote on the medical device regulation proposal on 18th September, the Declaration on Safer Medical Devices emphasises the firm position taken by the European healthcare sector to phase out the use of hazardous chemicals in medical devices.

The declaration, initiated by Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) Europe, is supported by 18 international and European organisations and represents over 900 hospitals, medical institutions and healthcare systems and over 16 million healthcare professionals worldwide, all of whom work with and use medical devices on a daily basis. The declaration is a strong message sent by the healthcare sector demanding immediate policy change. HCWH Europe’s Executive Director, Anja Leetz, states “a large representation of the healthcare sector supports this declaration because they care about the safety of their patients and the environment”.

The proposal, led by ENVI, has seen positive progress throughout the policy process – the European Parliament’s Internal Market (IMCO) and Employment (EMPL) Committees voted on amendments in June 2013 that support the phase out of hazardous chemicals in medical devices.

There are two groups of hazardous chemicals that are still commonly used in medical devices today - those that are carcinogenic, mutagenic and reprotoxic (CMRs) and those that disrupt the hormone system (EDCs) while nanomaterials are becoming increasingly used with still unknown health implications. Although medical devices are intended to improve our condition, they can indeed be harmful for human health and the environment. 
Vulnerable groups like children, pregnant and nursing women, dialysis patients and other patients with chronic diseases have an increased risk of developing cancer, neurological and behavioural disorders, and infertility as a result of exposure to these harmful chemicals – to name just a few of the adverse effects.

As representatives of health communities across Europe, HCWH Europe argues that EU legislation should encourage the healthcare sector to move away from unsustainable healthcare practices that pollute the environment and contribute to disease. If EU decision makers support the phase out of hazardous chemicals in medical equipment under the new regulation on medical devices, the mechanisms necessary to move towards a toxic-free European healthcare system can begin to be implemented.

The Declaration
HCWH Europe’s Declaration on Safer Medical Devices can be viewed here.

The Petition
HCWH encourages individuals who wish to see a healthcare system that does no harm to themselves or their families to sign the online petition and join the campaign for environmentally responsible healthcare.

The Declaration on Safer Medical devices has been signed by:

Association of European Cancer Leagues, Belgium
BUND (Friends of the Earth Germany), Germany
CAATA, Mexico
Centre for Sustainable Healthcare, United Kingdom
Comité Pour le Développement Durable en Santé (C2DS), France
EcoBaby Foundation, The Netherlands
European Specialist Nurses Organisation (ESNO), The Netherlands
Health Care Without Harm Europe, Belgium
Institute of Sustainable Healthcare, Austria
International Council of Nurses, Switzerland
International Diabetes Federation, Belgium
International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations, France
International Society of Doctors for the Environment, Switzerland
International Society of Doctors for the Environment Austria, Austria
Mercuriados, Spain
Royal College of Physicians, United Kingdom
Stockholm County Council, Sweden
The Ecological Council, Denmark

Health Care Without Harm is an international coalition of more than 500 organizations in 53 countries, working to transform the health care sector worldwide, without compromising patient safety or care, so that it is ecologically sustainable and no longer a source of harm to public health and the environment.