HOSPITALS TO MITIGATE CLIMATE CHANGE

Cape Town, Western Cape, 30 September 2014 – The health sector’s mandate is to prevent and cure disease, yet the delivery of health care services, most notably in hospitals, often inadvertently contributes to the problem. The Western Cape Department of Health has, with the facilitation of NGO groundWork [1], recognized this problem and has signed onto an international initiative called the Global Green and Healthy Hospitals (GGHH) [2], which aims to reduce the ecological footprint of healthcare operations to promote public health through a cleaner and safer environment. 

Lentegeur Psychiatric Hospital in Mitchell’s Plain was the first in South Africa to sign onto GGHH and the provincial department signed on earlier this year. Also to join Lentegeur Hospital are Mitchell’s Plain, Khayelitsha, Victoria, Valkenberg, Western Cape Rehabilitation Centre and the University of Stellenbosch. Hospitals in the Western Cape will be encouraged to commit to at least two of the ten goals, namely leadership, chemicals, energy, water, transportation, food, pharmaceuticals, building and purchasing [3]. 

Hospitals and other health organisations can generate significant environmental and publich health impacts, both upstream and downstream from service delivery, through the natural resources and products they use, and the waste they generate and dispose. In most cases, healthcare professionals have not taken this into consideration, ignoring socio-economic and environmental factors, food consumption and chemical exposure where they work and which impact on their patients.

GGHH Campaigner at groundWork, Luqman Yesufu states:

“If you want individuals in South Africa to adopt a healthy lifestyle, it is critical to model this transformation in one of the most trusted and vital sectors in society, the healthcare system. This transformation would, amongst other things, be a change to a cleaner energy system, safer chemical alternatives for cleaning etc. and a reduction and proper disposal of waste.”

While these may seem like immediate impacts only, changing current practices through GGHH will help to mitigate climate change. The contribution of environmental factors to the burden of disease will be magnified and increased with the growing health-related impacts of climate change, for example through shifting patterns of diseases, water and food insecurity, vulnerable human settlements, extreme climate events and population migration.

Media are invited to attend the following events:

Recently, groundWork has had meetings with hospitals based in KwaZulu Natal, particularly in Durban, to get them on board the GGHH network and begin through contribution to mitigating climate change. Ultimately, the organisation’s aim is to have all South African hospitals moving towards greening, cleaning up and making safer their operations for the well-being of the public’s health and environment.

 

FOOTNOTES
[1] groundWork is an environmental justice organisation working with community people from around South Africa, and increasingly Southern Africa, on environmental justice and human rights issues focusing on Coal, Climate and Energy Justice, Waste and Environmental Health. groundWork is the South African member of Friends of the Earth International and the South African member of Healthcare Without Harm www.groundwork.org.za
[2] For more information about the Global Green and Healthy Hospitals initiative visit https://noharm-global.org/issues/global/global-green-and-healthy-hospitals
[3] For more information about the ten goals within Global Green and Healthy Hospitals visit https://noharm-global.org/issues/global/ten-goals

CONTACTS

Megan Lewis
Media and Communications Officer
Tel (w): +27 (0) 33 342 5662
Mobile: +27 (0) 83 450 5541
Email: megan@groundwork.org.za

Luqman Yesufu
Global Green and Healthy Hospitals Campaigner
Mobile: +27 (0) 81 243 9257

Email: luqman@groundwork.org.za