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What is healthcare doing?

Natalia video and BMJ LMIC article

In the video we will hear from Natalia Kurek. She is the Deputy Director of A Greener NHS. She will describe the United Kingdom’s (UK’s) National Health Service (NHS) green strategy.

What is the green plan for the NHS?

  • On 1 July 2022, the NHS became the first health system to embed net zero into legislation, through the Health and Care Act 2022. The Act requires commissioners and providers of NHS services specifically to address the net zero emissions targets
  • Net zero by 2045 for the NHS Carbon Footprint ‘Plus’, with an ambition for an 80% reduction by 2036 to 2039.

This guidance explains how NHS organisations should construct their Green Plans, the areas and initiatives that the plans should cover, and signposts to supporting resources.

Below you will be able to find out more about the green strategy for the UK and NHS:

The most rational and cost effective way to achieve universal access and reduce emissions is to invest in keeping people healthy… This principle, central to universal health coverage, would yield all-round gains for patients, the planet, and healthcare costs

——— Decarbonising healthcare in low and middle income countries (LMIC): potential pathways to net zero emissions

In 2021 the BMJ published Decarbonising healthcare in low and middle income countries: potential pathways to net zero emissions.

  • They noted that the focus was often on reducing emissions in high income countries (HICs) and adaptation in low and middle income countries (LMICs).
  • Few LMICs are included in studies on carbon emissions from healthcare.
  • However, healthcare in LMICs is a carbon intensive activity and likely to grow with the delivery of commitments to universal health coverage (UN Sustainable Development Goal 3.8)

They concluded that:

The abilities of health workers in LMICs to innovate, build strategic south-south alliances, and secure the necessary political buy-in should not be underestimated. With effective leadership, coordination, and financing, charting a plan for health sector decarbonisation in LMICs is eminently feasible.

In this infographic, Net zero healthcare: Strategies for sustainable healthcare during the climate emergency the authors of “Decarbonising healthcare in low and middle income countries: potential pathways to net zero emissions” describe various strategies for sustainable healthcare. The climate emergency is forcing the medical community to think beyond care for the individual patients - expanding our duty of care to protecting the Earth’s natural systems on which intergenerational health and wellbeing depend. This graphic presents twelve strategies out of more than 100 presented in two papers published in the BMJ for the COP26 climate conference in 2021. It uses the metaphor of a stylised town to visualise what these changes could look like. Such changes are now needed in towns and cities across the world. One - clean energy transition: renewable energy sourcing and low carbon grids; two - warning systems: heat and air quality index alerts delivered via mobile devices; three - low carbon prescribing: mandate low carbon products, packaging, and logistics, from low carbon suppliers with visible carbon reporting net zero targets; four - battery power: use battery power to expand electrical supply from renewable sources and reduce the need for fossil fuelled generators; five - distributed health care: offer multidisciplinary consultations, co-locate providers and allied health staff to minimise patient travel; six - device reprocessing: implement medical device reprocessing programmes, keeping materials in use at highest value; seven - primary health shift: shift from hospital-centric care to community-based health promotion and disease prevention; eight encourage active transport: provide safe cycling and pedestrian infrastructure, and encourage patient and staff to use it; nine - telehealth: optimise video conferencing and accelerate shift to telehealth; ten - efficient energy use: use of systems such as LED lighting and lighting controls; eleven - encourage healthy eating: provide plant-based diet options, reusable containers, and minimise waste and twelve - move to electric vehicles: electrify vehicle fleet, and improve support structures for electric vehicles, such as charging points. The article the infographic is taken from can be read in full at and Alt text

Image of from “Decarbonising healthcare in low and middle income countries: potential pathways to net zero emissions”

Examples of global decarbonisation projects:

  • Valle del Lili Foundation University Hospital in Colombia established a sustainable purchasing programme with the help of the Healthcare Without Harm Sustainable Procurement in Health Care Guide
  • India has committed $1.4bn towards electrifying the transportation sector. This will improve urban pollution significantly.
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How to Drive Sustainable Healthcare: Educate, Engage, and Empower

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