What can we learn from the Health Promoting Hospitals network?

Original post published 20 of July 2011

From the 1 – 3rd June 2011, I attended the 19th International Conference on Health Promoting Hospitals (HPH) and Health Services.

Roof Garden at the Buddhist Tzu Chi General Hospital in Taipei, Taiwan

This network was initiated by the WHO-Euro region in 1990 to stimulate proactive health promotion in and by hospitals as to improve the health of patients and relatives, staff and the community. It has a set of eighteen strategies and five standards that can be linked with an organisation’s quality management.

Last year HPH network set up an environmental task force where Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) brings experience and tools from our own network to the table. HPH’s annual conference is a good opportunity not only to present our own vision and goals and showcase good practises in healthcare but also for us to listen, learn and connect with hospitals globally.

The environment symposium was organised by the Taiwan HPH Network, the Bureau of Health Promotion (DOH of Taiwan), and the Environment Quality Protection Foundation.

Green space inside the Khoo Teck Puat Hospital in Singapore

Dr Michael TK Wong presented the green Khoo Teck Puat Hospital in Singapore. The 560 bed acute general hospital realises the vision of ‘a garden in a hospital, hospital in a garden’. It gives every patient a view to the outside and with plenty of greenery around to add an extra bit to cure.

The hospital has horizontal and vertical gardens, a green wall at a ‘De-Stress Corner’, over 900m2 of photovoltaic cells are installed on the rooftops for energy and a solar thermal system to produce hot water. The hospital has energy efficient water fixtures and fittings to reduce consumption, escalators with energy savingmode, motion sensors for office lighting and a skylight at basement 1 to provide natural lighting for the car park at basement 2.  The hospital recycles water and uses it for landscaping. Roof top gardening and urban farming are used to provide organic produce. The hospital has won several awards, such as the BCA Gold Award for Universal Design.

You-Chen Chao from the Buddhist Tzu Chi General Hospital in Taipei, Taiwan talked about promoting vegetarianism among patients and staff. The hospital only serves vegetarian food, estimating this saves 2,300 tonnes of carbon emissions annually. The hospital uses ice-storage air conditionsystem to reduce the workload of their air conditioners and saves this way 612,800kW/h of usage per year. The six hospital patio gardens and roof top rainspoutscollect rainwater, which is used to flush toilets, water plants and fill up the ponds. This way 5,338 litres (m3) of water are saved annually. The hospitalsaved 16,500 l of diesel oil by improving the efficiency of steam sterilizers.

Vegetarian meals at the Buddhist Tzu Chi General Hospital in Taipei, Taiwan

Finally the staff recycled 37,750 kg of plastic medical waste annually from respiratory tubes, intravenous drip infusion sets and dialyzers.

See a great presentation on the sustainability work of the hospital.




Sonia Roschnik from the NHS Sustainable Development Unit (SDU) talked about the journey to sustainable health and presented three case studies from Canada, Singapore and Taiwan.

Sonia elaborated on what the SDU has already undertaken: as assessing the NHS carbon footprint, mapping different scenarios, developing the carbon reduction strategy, information and resources for health services to utilise and a route map towards sustainable health. One interesting resource are the easy to use fact sheets ‘5 to survive’ which have been developed with users for different groups: Finance and Estate Managers, Nurses, Junior Doctors and GPs.

Marie-France Noel from the McGill University Health Centre in Montreal, Canada reported on how the health centre has recycled 17.000 kg of e-waste between August 2009 and February 201, which is in her words, is the equivalent of the weight of 17 dinosaurs. While refurbishing their building 83 % of the demolition has been recycled.

The lively debate afterwards these presentations covered the need for benchmarks to compare environmental changes and associated cost savings, but acknowledged that hospitals can already take plenty of action without them. The conference also saw an increase of poster presentations on environmental activities, so the subject is gaining more momentum within the HPH network.

All in all it was an inspiring conference with plenty of food for thought and new contacts being made. We are looking forward to the 20th HPH conference next year in Taiwan with more discussion and results on mitigation action to reduce the impact hospitals have on our planet. An amazing number of 128 Taiwanese hospitals have already taken up the challenge to become green hospitals - it will be interesting to see how this will become reality, the examples given can already serve as an inspiration for change.

/ Anja Leetz, Director HCWH Europe

Further Links:
19th International Conference on Health Promoting Hospitals (HPH) and Health Services: http://www.hph2011.com/

HCWH Europe: http://www.noharm.org/europe/

NHS Sustainable Development Unit: http://www.sdu.nhs.uk/news-events/videos/12/Sonia-Roschnik--NHS-Route-Map-for-Sustainable-Health

NHS Sustainable Development Unit's '5 to Survive': http://www.sdu.nhs.uk/publications-resources/13/5-To-Survive-/

McGill University Health Centre in Montreal: http://muhc.ca/

green Khoo Teck Puat Hospital in Singapore: http://www.ktph.com.sg/main/home

Buddhist Tzu Chi General Hospital in Taipei, Taiwan: http://www.tzuchi.com.tw/tzuchi_en/default.aspx

20th HPH conference next year in Taiwan: http://www.hph2012.com/

Original Blog Post