What is it about?

The global climate crisis is uniquely linked to healthcare systems. They are big emitters of greenhouse gases (GHGs), like carbon dioxide, which contribute significantly to climate change. But they must also deal with the health impacts of climate change, such as rising pollution levels, food, and water shortages, and an increase in infections and diseases, which will increase the demand for health care and services. Thus, healthcare systems play a major role in tackling the climate crisis. This article gives a summary of how health systems can reduce their carbon footprint, and how doctors can support them in reaching a goal for net zero emissions.

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Why is it important?

On average, 4.5% of a country’s total GHG emissions come from the healthcare industry. This is mostly from using energy from fossil fuels, running hospitals, and the goods and services that such systems buy and use. This also includes treatment of waste from hospitals, travel done by medical staff, and the use of medicines and medical devices. Health systems can reduce these emissions by using clean and renewable energy, adopting carbon efficient tools and practices. They can also reduce commuting for patients and staff and choose more climate friendly goods and services and optimize their use. To sustain these actions, doctors must lead by example and inspire others. They can start by finding areas in their hospitals that are more carbon intensive and make them more efficient. They can also promote public health awareness and give relevant training to their staff. Plus, they can drive policy changes, conduct research, and partner with other doctors to promote carbon efficiency across hospitals. The National Health Service (HNS) of England has committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2040 and 2045 for its supply chain. Additionally, over 60 countries have made promises to develop climate-resilient health systems and set net zero emissions goals. KEY TAKEAWAY: Therefore, this article highlights the steps that health systems can take to become more climate friendly and the key role that doctors play in achieving this. This research relates to the following Sustainable Development Goals: • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being • SDG 13: Climate Action • SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy • SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production • SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Tackling climate change: the pivotal role of clinicians, BMJ, September 2023, BMJ,
DOI: 10.1136/bmj-2023-076963.
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