Health Care Without Harm Europe is launching today a declaration and accompanying petition demanding the phase out of hazardous chemicals in medical devices, ahead of the 10th July vote on the medical device regulation proposal in the European Parliamentary Committee of Environment, Public Health and Food Safety.
The declaration, published by HCWH Europe, is supported by 8 international and European organisations and represents over 500 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. HCWH Europe’s Executive Director, Anja Leetz, states that the “overall support from the signatory organisations emphasises the overwhelming demand for policy change at the European level”.
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 may disrupt the hormone system (EDCs). Although these substances are in devices that are intended to improve our condition, they may indeed be harmful for human health and the environment. Medical devices while in use to treat patients can leach harmful substances and may be absorbed by the human body or released into the air and water. 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, diabetes and infertility as a result of exposure to these harmful man-made chemicals – to name just a few of the adverse effects.
Following on from last week’s developments when the European Parliament’s Internal Market (IMCO) and Employment (EMPL) Committees tabled amendments that support the phase out of hazardous chemicals in medical devices, the declaration is a strong message sent by the healthcare sector demanding immediate policy change. Ms Leetz comments, “it is vital for the future of public health that this declaration and petition is seen and supported by as many people as possible to send a strong signal to policy makers to finally control the use of these substances as we do in other legislation such as governing cosmetics”.
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.
HCWH Europe’s Declaration on safer chemicals in medical devices can be viewed here.
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.
HCWH Europe is a non-profit coalition of European hospitals, healthcare systems, medical associations, healthcare professionals, local authorities and environmental and health organisations. They aim 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. For more information about HCWH Europe, please contact their Press and Communications Officer at email@example.com.