This week the EU celebrates the EU Green Week. This year it’s organised under the theme of “Delivering the net-zero world”. I am writing this post en route to HIMSS Europe in Portugal where I will moderate a session “Achieving Net-Zero Health Systems: what’s working and what’s not?” on Friday 9th June. Numerous events, panels, webinars are organised every week that touch on the links between the climate change, health and healthcare sector. From emerging to trending – green health became a hot topic in recent months and I bet it’s here to stay.
You may have come across various terms like green health, zero net healthcare, and One Health. So, what’s the difference? Well, they are all integral parts of the same equation, complementing each other in their pursuit of a sustainable future.
Zero-net healthcare aims to minimise the environmental impact of healthcare facilities and operations by achieving net-zero status. This means that the environmental impact is offset by equal or greater environmental benefits. Achieving this requires reducing greenhouse gas emissions, minimising waste and pollution, and conserving energy and water resources.
On the other hand, One Health recognises the interdependence of human, animal, and environmental health. It’s an interdisciplinary approach that brings together sectors such as human medicine, veterinary medicine, environmental science, and public health, with the aim of achieving optimal health outcomes for all.
At ECHAlliance/Global Health Connector Partnership, we adopt the term Green Health to encompass a range of actions. These include decarbonising health systems, promoting green IT for digital health, developing resilient health systems, and investing in the green skills of healthcare professionals, developers, and decision-makers. Our goal is to bring together stakeholders from all backgrounds to share knowledge, best practices, and collaborate on game-changing eco-friendly practices and solutions.
Why is it crucial to act now? Many are unaware that healthcare facilities rank among the largest energy consumers and waste producers worldwide. Hospitals alone contribute approximately 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions, making healthcare the 5th biggest polluter if it were a country. The emissions from healthcare systems equate to those produced by 514 coal-fired power plants. That’s a lot!
We spoke about it at the session dedicated to Green Health at the Digital Health & Wellness Summit in February in Barcelona, during the Mobile World Congress. With the representatives of the hospital, European Commission and procurers’ organisation, we concluded that more information and guidance is needed on what to do, why and how. Hospitals want to choose “green” but they often lack information on eg. What’s the carbon footprint of solutions or practices? The topic is trending already but the good practices are still only emerging.
This is precisely why we at ECHAlliance and Global Health Connector Partnership are dedicated to on this theme, to promote it and raise awareness and to bring together people from all around the world that want to learn from each other and fill the gap that currently exists in intelligence and know-how.
Green Health is an ambitious challenge, but it is one that is increasingly important as we face the challenges of climate change and the need to create a more sustainable world.
Follow ECHAlliance as we will launch the theme globally at the event in September. More information is coming very soon!